Clinton has 9-point lead as comeback obstacles loom for Trump

Support for Trump among critical groups of voters, including men and the less educated, has weakened.

By John McCormick

Bloomberg News

CHICAGO — Donald Trump would need to stage a historic comeback to win the White House in 20 days as key slices of the electorate drift away from his candidacy, according to the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll.

Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 9 percentage points in the survey of likely voters, taken after a leaked video prompted a series of women to come forward alleging the Republican made unwanted sexual advances.

Support for Trump among critical groups of voters, including men and the less educated, has weakened in the campaign’s closing days, a trajectory that could translate into a landslide loss for Republicans in the Electoral College and setbacks in down-ballot races that will determine control of the House and Senate.

“This poll shows movement toward Clinton with all the right groups it takes to win — including men and those without a college degree,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey ahead of the final debate Wednesday. “Their alignment with Clinton is a formidable change in the algebra.”

After trailing among men throughout the summer, Clinton is now winning 46 percent of their support in a hypothetical two-way race, compared to 44 percent for Trump. She’s ahead among women by 17 points and has a 1-point edge among white women, 46 percent to 45 percent.

In the overall two-way contest, Clinton leads 50 percent to 41 percent, the same margin as when third-party candidates are included.

Among those with no college degree, her edge is 48 percent to 44 percent, erasing Trump’s 8-point advantage in September. Among whites with college degrees — a longtime Republican stronghold — she expanded her lead to 13 points.

Clinton is also boosted by winning 93 percent of Democrats and those who lean that way, while Trump gets 85 percent of Republicans and those who lean that way. Among independents in a two-way race, Clinton has 39 percent to Trump’s 38 percent.

Trump is viewed unfavorably by 62 percent of voters, including 52 percent who say their feelings are very unfavorable.

More than half, 56 percent, said Trump’s issues with women are a concern for them as they vote. Those issues include a 2005 hot-mic video leaked this month in which Trump bragged about groping women, and subsequent allegations by several women that Trump sexually assaulted them. Trump has denied the claims.

With 6 percent of voters reporting they’ve already cast their ballots, there’s little time for Trump to turn things around as he also confronts a superior Democratic ground game that’s poised to lock in Clinton’s current advantage.

If Trump does become the nation’s next president, 59 percent of Clinton supporters said they’ll be panicked. Fewer than half of Trump’s supporters, 42 percent, said that of Clinton.

Bright spots for him include 65 percent of his supporters saying they’re very or fairly enthused about him, compared to 58 percent of Clinton’s supporters who say that for her. Eighty-four percent of Trump’s supporters in a two-way race said they’re absolutely certain to vote for him and not change their minds or skip the election, compared to 81 percent for Clinton.

“The race sure looks like it’s a solid Clinton win, but Trump has a few advantages in enthusiasm and support,” Selzer said.

The last time a presidential candidate won the popular vote by more than 9 points was President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Voters are narrowly divided on their preference for congressional representation, with 47 percent saying they preferred or were leaning toward the Democratic U.S. House candidate in their district, while 43 percent selected the Republican or leaned that way.

Almost half of likely voters, 49 percent, say they’re personally better off now than in 2009, when President Barack Obama took office. A similar share, 47 percent, say they expect they’d be personally worse off two years into a Trump presidency, while 42 percent say that of Clinton.

If Clinton wins, 47 percent expect no real change in the stock market, while 22 percent say they anticipate the market would head higher and 26 percent say lower. Following a Trump victory, a quarter would expect no real change in equities, while 37 percent say better and 32 percent worse.

Forty-three percent of voters say the unemployment rate would improve under Trump while 33 percent say it’d worsen. The outlook under Clinton is more evenly split, 31 percent to 29 percent.

Voters see wages more likely than not to improve, regardless of who the next president is. Majorities of voters say they expect race relations and relationships with other nations would get worse under Trump.

Unemployment and jobs ranks as the top issue for the largest share of voters, 21 percent, followed by terrorism at 18 percent. Trump’s supporters are more likely to select terrorism, while Clinton’s tend more toward economic issues.

Clinton’s standing has improved from the last Bloomberg Politics national poll in September, just before the first debate, when she and Trump were tied at 46 percent each head-to-head. While she’s still viewed unfavorably by 52 percent, an unusually high proportion for a nominee, the gap between her favorable and unfavorable ratings has shrunk to 5 points. Trump’s widened to 25 points.

Obama’s job approval stands at 51 percent, while 55 percent view him favorably. First lady Michelle Obama, who made waves last week by forcefully chastising Trump for the comments he made in the video, is viewed favorably by 62 percent.

Libertarian Gary Johnson is backed by 16 percent of independents, his strongest demographic group. Neither he nor the Green Party’s Jill Stein qualified for any of the three presidential debates.

As both campaigns head into the crucial get-out-the-vote phase, the poll shows no meaningful differences in terms of various voter contact tools. Roughly the same share of Clinton and Trump supporters say they’ve been contacted by their candidate’s campaign via email or phone.

The survey of 1,006 likely voters, taken Friday through Monday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups.