Democrat Hillary Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead nationally over Republican Donald Trump, whose negatives remain unusually high for a presidential candidate amid early indications that the Orlando terrorist attack has had little direct impact on the 2016 race.
A new Bloomberg Politics national poll shows Clinton leading Trump 49 percent to 37 percent among likely voters in November's election, with 55 percent of those polled saying they could never vote for the real-estate developer and TV personality.
Most national polls in late May and early June showed a closer race, but they were taken before criticism intensified of Trump's charge that a U.S. judge overseeing fraud cases against Trump University is biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Fifty-five percent of likely voters in the new poll said they were very bothered by those comments.
“Clinton has a number of advantages in this poll, in addition to her lead,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “Her supporters are more enthusiastic than Trump’s and more voters overall see her becoming a more appealing candidate than say that for Trump.”
One bit of positive news for Trump in the results is that he narrowly edges out Clinton, 45 percent to 41 percent, when those surveyed were asked which candidate they would have more confidence in if a similar attack to the one in Florida took place a year from now. The violence left 49 victims dead, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Fifty percent to 45 percent, Trump is also viewed as stronger among likely voters in combating terrorist threats at home and abroad.
The Bloomberg poll is the first major telephone survey since the mass shooting, heightened furor over Trump's statements about the judge, and Clinton’s June primary victories in California and other states that cemented her status as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The poll was conducted Friday through Monday, with additional questions about terrorism, guns, and Muslims added after the carnage early Sunday in Orlando. Results from those questions have a higher margin of error—plus or minus 4.9 percentage points—than the rest of the poll. The poll used likely voters for its presidential horse-race questions, while most national surveys earlier this year have used the larger universes of registered voters or simply adults.
While the shooting didn’t alter the poll’s night-by-night findings in the presidential race in any significant way, the incident did alter the trend lines on other measures.
The proportion of Americans saying the nation is on the right track dropped to 19 percent from 27 percent, when compared before and after the Orlando incident. The share saying terrorism or the Islamic State is the most important election issue rose to 28 percent from 16 percent.
When two days of polling before Orlando are compared with the two days after, President Barack Obama's job approval rating dropped to 51 percent from 55 percent, while his favorability dropped to 52 percent from 57 percent.
Trump's suggestions that Obama hasn't taken forceful enough action to stop domestic terrorism because he sides with Muslims landed with a thud for the majority of Americans, with 61 percent disagreeing with the suggestion. A strong majority—69 percent—also disagree that law enforcement agencies should increase surveillance of all American Muslims, even if it conflicts with civil liberties.
There's greater division on whether the U.S. should ban the sale of all semi-automatic or automatic rifles to civilians, with 50 percent saying no and 48 percent saying yes. A plurality of 47 percent agree with Trump's suggestion that avoiding the phrase “radical Islam” makes the U.S. look weak in fighting terrorism, while 44 percent disagree.
Clinton's polling advantage over Trump followed a strong week for her that has included primary wins and multiple endorsements, including from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. She is expected to win the one remaining Democratic primary Tuesday in the District of Columbia.
The former secretary of state is far from universally loved, but the share of likely voters who say they could never vote for her—43 percent—is much lower than Trump's 55 percent.
Other troubling findings for Trump in poll include how 63 percent of women say they could never vote for him. “If you can never get the vote of two in three women, who are a majority of voters, that is something that has to change for Trump to emerge victorious,” Selzer said.
Similar proportions of those younger than 35 and those with incomes of less than $50,000 also say they could never support him.
Trailing Clinton and Trump is Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. The former New Mexico governor recorded 9 percent among likely voters, below the 15-percent average he'd need in national polls to be included in this year's presidential debates.
How things play out in the dozen or so battleground states that typically decide presidential elections may be more important than broad national trends, but some indicators are telling. Clinton dominates with many of the groups typically important in general elections, winning the support of 57 percent of women, 58 percent of those who aren't married, and 77 percent of non-whites.
Those who backed Clinton's nomination challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are mostly rallying around her. She receives 55 percent from Sanders supporters, while Trump gets 22 percent and Johnson gets 18 percent.
For his part, Trump is winning 50 percent support from white men, compared to 33 percent for Clinton and 13 percent for Johnson. He's getting 54 percent support among evangelical Christians, while Clinton gets 36 percent from that group.
White men are among Trump's strongest demographics. But even there he's not showing as much strength as the party's last nominee, Mitt Romney, who beat Obama in 2012 by 62 percent to 35 percent among white men, according to exit polls.
More of Clinton's supporters are excited than Trump's as the two embark on the start of the general election, with 43 percent of the Democrat's backers saying they're “very enthusiastic” about their nominee, compared to 33 percent who say that among those backing Trump.
Among all likely general-election voters, nearly two-thirds say Trump is becoming less appealing to them, while 51 percent say that of Clinton.
“I would like to see a third party established so that we have more choices,” said poll participant Shawn Barry, 52, a truck driver from Omaha, Nebraska. Barry said he plans to write in Sanders’ name on his November ballot, calling Clinton “part of the problem” and Trump a “big practical joke.”
Almost two-thirds of likely voters say they expect Trump to continue to say things that will upset some Republicans, while 30 percent say they anticipate he'll tone down his rhetoric and say fewer inflammatory things.
For her part, 60 percent say they expect Clinton will continue to face questions about the use of a personal e-mail account for official business when she was secretary of state, while 35 percent think the issue will be put to rest before the election.
On possible lines of attack against Clinton and Trump, the survey found several that resonate strongly with likely voters.
Sixty-two percent of those planning to vote in November said they're bothered a lot by Trump's use of words like “pig,” “slob,” “bimbo,” and other lewd comments to describe women.
Roughly half are that say they are troubled about Trump's proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. His calls to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and his statement that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists” bothers 50 percent a lot.
Forty-five percent say they are bothered a lot about Trump University, his for-profit real-estate program that’s been accused in lawsuits and by state officials of misleading students. The same number say they are bothered a lot that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, potentially breaking with a precedent for a major-party nominee that has spanned 40 years.
For Clinton, half of likely voters say they are bothered a lot that she has given speeches to Wall Street banks that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars. Roughly that same proportion—47 percent—say they are that bothered that the Clinton foundation took money from foreign countries while Clinton was secretary of state, raising questions about special treatment for those countries.
Forty-five percent say they are bothered a lot by Clinton's use of a private e-mail server for official business that wasn't allowed while she was secretary of state.
Just more than a third say they are bothered a lot that Clinton has been accused of working to undermine the reputations of women who were linked to former President Bill Clinton's infidelity.
Her tenure in Washington since the 1990s deeply bothers 35 percent of likely voters, at least when they're told that she's part of the Washington establishment and not a leader with different ideas and perspectives.
The fact that she's been called a failure as secretary of state by critics because of continued violence in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State is deeply concerning to 38 percent.
The poll interviewed 1,000 adults, including 750 who said they're likely to vote in November's general election. It also interviewed an additional 150 adults on Monday night, asking them only questions related to the Orlando attack. A total of 408 answered those questions in the survey, which was conducted by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, Iowa. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points on questions involving likely voters, while it's plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for those asked of all adults.
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