A new poll from CBS News shows Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump narrowing after she clinched the Democrat nomination. In this latest survey, Clinton leads Trump by six points, 43-37. In March, however, Clinton led Trump by 10 points, 50-40. Clinton’s drop in support since then is more than twice the drop in Trump’s support.
It is important to note, however, that this CBS survey was conducted largely before the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday. If anything, the survey provides a benchmark for the race prior to any political fallout from the tragic attack in Florida.
That Hillary’s lead over Trump narrowed even after her Democrat primary contest effectively ended is a sign of two challenges facing Clinton. First, an overwhelming percentage of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters want the Vermont socialist to continue his primary challenge through the Democrat convention.
Two-thirds of Sanders’ supporters, 67 percent, believe he should continue his primary challenge through the convention in Philadephia. This conviction is felt in spite of the fact that 58 percent of his supporters don’t believe he has a realistic chance of becoming the nominee. Believing he should continue his challenge even when he doesn’t have a chance to prevail is clear indication that some primary bitterness remains.
Indeed, 57 percent of Sanders supporters do not believe the Democrat primary process has been fair.
The second challenge for Clinton is voters’ continuing doubts about her honesty and trustworthiness. Both Clinton and Trump score low on the question of honesty, but 56 percent of voters think Trump believes what he says. Only one-third of voters thinks Clinton believes what she says. More than 60 percent think Clinton simply says what she thinks people want to hear.
In Clinton’s case, this concern isn’t hypothetical. Almost 60 percent of voters have heard “a lot” about her use of a private email server while Secretary of State. This is up considerably since last year. Another 29 percent have paid “some attention” to the controversy.
Overall, 41 percent of voters believe that Clinton broke the law by using her own private email. Another 25 percent believe her use of private email was improper, but not illegal. Just a quarter of voters believe Clinton didn’t do anything wrong.
Views on the issue, though, are driven by knowledge of the issue. Among those voters that know even a little bit about her use of private email, more than half, 52 percent, believe she broke the law. Greater awareness of the issue, in other words, damages Clinton.
Trump faces his own challenges within his party, though. Almost one-in-four Republican voters still think Republicans should support someone else for the nomination. This is in spite of the fact that the Republican primary contest effectively ended more than a month ago.
Again, this CBS poll of 1,048 registered voters was largely conducted prior to the horrific attack in Orlando. The Presidential race completely changed this week. We will soon know in which direction it is moving.