Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Lead Narrows Among Democratic Primary Voters, Poll Says

This is pretty big.

From NBC News, via Memeorandum, "NBC/WSJ Poll: Clinton's National Lead Down to Two Points."

And from Janet Hook, at WSJ:

Sen. Bernie Sanders has all but eliminated Hillary Clinton’s polling lead among Democratic voters nationwide, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found, offering signs that she continues to struggle with the primary electorate at a time when she wanted to build strength for the general election.

Mr. Sanders for the first time is close to tying Mrs. Clinton, as 48% of Democratic primary voters picked him as their first choice for president, while 50% picked her. In a poll last month, Mrs. Clinton was ahead by nine percentage points, enjoying a 53%-to-44% edge.

A majority of states have already held their primary contests, and the Vermont senator’s surge in support likely comes too late for him to overcome Mrs. Clinton’s big lead in delegates to the summer nominating convention in Philadelphia. But the survey suggests that the long and bitter primary campaign has taken a toll on the former senator and secretary of state.

“As she is finishing this primary, she is not gaining strength,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the survey with Democrat Fred Yang. “The cracks are showing, and she is losing strength.”

Mrs. Clinton’s saving grace is the weakness of her potential Republican opposition. The survey found that GOP front-runner Donald Trump would have a harder time consolidating his party behind him than she would hers. Some 38% of Republican primary voters said they couldn’t see themselves supporting the New York businessman, while 21% of Democrats said they couldn’t support Mrs. Clinton.

In a hypothetical general-election matchup, Mrs. Clinton outpolls Mr. Trump 50% to 39%, the survey found.

But for most voters, that would be a lesser-of-two-evils choice: 56% of both Trump and Clinton voters said their vote would be cast because they didn’t want the other candidate to win.

“For these voters, casting their ballot for president in 2016 is not about an idealistic vision of hope and change or a new day in America,” Mr. Yang said, “but, rather, a much more sober and pragmatic feeling as they check the box: It could be worse.”

Among Republicans, Mr. Trump has maintained his advantage as the field of candidates dwindled. He is the first choice of 40% of GOP primary voters, compared with 35% for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 24% for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

But the poll would fuel his rivals’ argument that Mr. Trump would be the party’s weakest candidate against Mrs. Clinton in a general election: Mr. Cruz trails her by two points, 46% to 44%, in a hypothetical matchup, while Mr. Kasich outpolls her, 51% to 39%.

The two parties’ front-runners are making history with the negative feelings they inspire. The share of voters who feel negatively toward Mr. Trump, at 65%, or Mrs. Clinton, at 56%, is unprecedented for a major-party nominee. By comparison, President Barack Obama was viewed in a negative light by 43%, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney by 44%, at the end of the 2012 general-election campaign.

“America is on the path to electing the most unpopular president since 1948,” said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who also helped conduct the survey...