Swing State Polls Show Election Will Be No Cakewalk for Hillary Clinton

Swing State Polls Show Election Will Be No Cakewalk for Hillary Clinton
Source: AP
Source: AP

Forecasting a Hillary Clinton blowout this November? You might want to readjust those expectations.

A new set of swing state polls released by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday morning shows a neck and neck contest between the likely Democratic presidential nominee and presumptive Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump, with the Manhattan real estate magnate statistically tying the former secretary of state in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Read more: Nearly Half of Trump Supporters Are Behind Him Because They "Don't Want Hillary Clinton"

The numbers: In both Florida and Pennsylvania, Clinton edges Trump 43% to 42%, while the populist billionaire leads Clinton 43% to 39% in Ohio, where the Trump campaign hopes his anti-free trade message will resonate with blue-collar voters.

Since 1960, Quinnipiac noted in a news release, no candidate has won the presidency without winning at least two of the three states.

The surveys underscored that the 2016 race pits two deeply unpopular candidates against each other, with Clinton's own image problems offering Trump a glimmer of hope for overcoming his sky-high unfavorability ratings.

Indeed, Quinnipiac found that Clinton was at least as unpopular than Trump in each state. In Florida, both candidates were viewed favorably by 37% of voters and unfavorably by 57%, while Clinton's ratings were worse in Ohio (34%-62%, compared to Trump's 36%-57%) and Pennsylvania (37%-58% to his 39%-55%). 

Those figures hint at why Trump's broadsides against "Crooked Hillary" will persist through the fall. If he can depress turnout for Clinton and capitalize on controversies stemming from her husband's sexual misbehavior and her use of a private email server as secretary of state, the thinking goes, Trump may yet prevail.

In each state, Quinnipiac found, voters saw Clinton as less honest and trustworthy than Trump.

Gender gap: Notably, the polls indicated a stark gender gap in the candidates' support, with men breaking strongly for Trump and women overwhelmingly backing Clinton.

"This election may be good for divorce lawyers. The gender gap is massive and currently benefits Trump," assistant poll director Peter Brown said in a news release. "In Pennsylvania, Clinton's 19-point lead among women matches Trump's 21-point margin among men. In Ohio, she is up 7 points among women but down 15 points with men. In Florida she is up 13 points among women but down 13 points among men." 

With Trump dogged by criticism over remarks critics describe as misogynist, Clinton's path to victory relies on strong support from women voters, who comprise a majority of the electorate. After Trump accused Clinton of playing "the women's card" last month, her campaign parlayed the ensuing firestorm into a multimillion-dollar fundraising bonanza. 

While Clinton's lead among women voters represents a potent advantage heading into the general election, Trump has strengths of his own, Quinnipiac found, with voters preferring him over Clinton on handling the economy and terrorism. 

Though Clinton is a virtual lock to take on Trump this fall, she has yet to dispatch primary rival Bernie Sanders, whom Quinnipiac found would lead Trump in all three states. Sanders led 44% to 42% in Florida, 43% to 41% in Ohio and 47% to 41% in Pennsylvania. But with Sanders needing 86% of the remaining delegates up for grabs to defeat Clinton, a Trump-Sanders face-off isn't in the cards.

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Luke Brinker

Luke Brinker is Mic's politics editor. He is based in New York and can be reached at luke@mic.com.

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