A poll of the upcoming presidential election finds Hillary Clinton tied with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. In the Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters, Clinton has 37 percent support against Trump’s 36 percent support. The finding upends most pundits’ predictions for the 2016 contest.
It is widely asserted by the pundit class and the Republican establishment that Clinton would be the prohibitive favorite against Trump, and generally most Republicans, in the election next Fall. This assessment is largely based on the conventional wisdom inside the “Acela Corridor,” the train link between Washington and New York where most of the political pundit class resides.
This latest poll is consistent with an earlier survey by Rasmussen conducted in October. The result is also in-line with the most recent CNN poll, which showed the race tied, with Trump having gained ground since its last survey.
Of course the election is still 11 months away and the political landscape will not doubt change between today and the actual voting. There are still two major take-aways in this most recent Rasmussen poll:
First, the public doesn’t share the media’s hyperbolic swooning over any particular Trump “controversy.” Since his campaign for the Presidency began, Trump has lived in the middle of several media firestorms over his comments on the campaign trail.
The media pretty much has exhausted its displays of outrage over Trump’s perceived detours from accepted political discourse and yet his standing with voters has only grown. Voters split on whether Trump or Clinton would do a better job handling foreign affairs. Trump, however, holds a double-digit lead over Clinton on being better able to handle the economy and immigration.
In many respects, the media is the biggest loser in this poll. The nearly round-the-clock drumbeat of its attacks on Trump are having very little impact in any polls.
The second main take-away from the poll is the fundamental weakness of Hillary Clinton as the Democrat standard-bearer. Democrats should be concerned that Hillary only polls in the higher 30s, as she has been on the national political stage for more than 20 years and is a known quantity to almost all voters. Trump, to be sure, has been a celebrity equally long, but only a political figure for a handful of months.
Worse, more than one-in-ten Democrats say they support Trump over Hillary. That is far more than the number of Republicans Hillary pulls away from Trump, despite constant criticism from his Republican rivals for the nomination.
Trump also leads Hillary among men by a wider margin than Romney won against Barack Obama. More interesting, though, is that Hillary only leads Trump by 11 points among women. That is the same margin that Obama won against Romney, suggesting that Hillary is doing no better among women than any other Democrat candidate.
Pundits regularly speculate that Hillary will have a clear edge with female voters, especially against Trump, because she would be the first woman President. That speculation makes superficial sense, but it isn’t showing up in the polls.
It seems the people who most care about having a female President are already Democrats, providing Hillary with no net increase in support.
Hillary has already spent tens of millions on her campaign against weak primary opposition. Trump has spent almost nothing, relying on an abundance of free media coverage. Even though most of that coverage has been critical, it has only helped him in the polls.
Hillary’s real challenge, though, is that voters, even those supporting her, aren’t that excited about her candidacy. In the CNN poll, just 19 percent of Democrats said they were “extremely excited” about the upcoming election. This is rather muted for an allegedly historic campaign.
Among Republicans, however, 36 percent say they are “extremely excited” about the 2016 election, double the number of Democrats. Whether its eagerness to end the Obama Era, block Hillary from returning to the White House or genuine enthusiasm for Trump or other Republicans is immaterial. Republicans, at this stage, are highly motivated.
That is likely the real source of the media’s outrage.