Early voting and battleground geography spell different fortunes for Clinton and Trump’s chances Tuesday, with Clinton garnering majority support among those who have cast ballots but Trump faring better among likely voters in key states in the electoral college.
Despite Trump’s hesitance to say he will accept the election’s outcome, nearly eight in 10 likely voters say they are prepared to accept the result regardless of who wins, including about seven in 10 Trump supporters and about nine in 10 Clinton backers.
Clinton received the support of 47 percent and Trump 43 percent in the Post-ABC poll conducted Wednesday through Saturday, with an additional 4 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2 percent for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Clinton’s lead has ticked back one point from her edge of 48 percent to 43 percent in the tracking wave released Sunday, although she stands in better position than early last week when the race was nearly even. The Post and ABC will release a new tracking poll result Monday afternoon which reflects interviews through Sunday.
Early voting and battlegrounds
Clinton has held an advantage among early voters throughout most of the past two weeks, suggesting that she has banked a significant amount of votes among a group that makes up one-third of the likely voter electorate. In data collected over the past three nights, Clinton leads 55 percent to 39 percent among early voters, although the margin was slimmed to 10 points in the last day of interviewing.
Clinton leads among voters who said they plan to vote early by 49 to 41 percent, a group that makes up 14 percent of likely voters. The 51 percent of likely voters who say they will vote on Election Day split 45 percent for Trump and 43 percent for Clinton.
But the poll also finds Trump’s support may be concentrated in places where it matters most. Trump receives 51 percent to 41 percent for Clinton in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio in 336 combined interviews in these states over the week ending Saturday. Clinton leads by 13 points in states that lean clearly Democratic this year (52 percent to 37 percent), while Trump has a seven-point edge in Republican-leaning states.
Partisan defections, non-white voters and other key groups
Partisan unity hit a record high in the 2012 election — but this year defections among Democrats and Republicans appear greater than in any election since 1996, when Reform Party candidate Ross Perot garnered significant support
Party ties are still strong this year, with 87 percent of Democrats supporting Clinton and 84 percent of Republicans backing Trump in a four-candidate contest, rising to 89 percent and 87 percent in a hypothetical two-way race. But both are lower than Obama’s 92 percent support among Democrats and Mitt Romney’s 93 percent support among Republicans in network exit polling four years ago.
What’s striking about the 2016 result is the relative similarity in support for Trump and Clinton among fellow partisans, despite the fact that Trump has faced far more criticism from Republicans than Clinton has from Democrats.
Across all Democrats interviewed in the Post-ABC tracking poll over more than two weeks, a sample of 2,002 likely voters, Clinton’s support is lowest among Democrats who live in rural areas (76 percent), conservatives (75 percent), whites (86 percent), and men (85 percent). Interestingly, Clinton’s support is not any lower than average among Democrats younger than 30, a group that largely supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) in the primary.
Among all likely voters, Clinton leads Trump among nonwhites by 77 percent to 15 percent, a 62-point margin that mirrors Obama’s 61-point winning edge with racial and ethnic minorities in 2012. Within this broader group, Clinton’s 82-point lead among African Americans is slightly smaller than Obama’s in 2012 (plus-87) while her edge with Latinos (plus-52) is slightly wider than his (plus-44).
Trump holds a 16-point lead among white likely voters, 53 percent to 37 percent, who continue to split sharply along educational and gender lines. Although white men without college degrees continue to support Trump by a wide margin (60 percent to 29 percent), the Post-ABC poll also finds the Republican with a 35-point lead among white working-class women (64 percent to 29 percent), a group that has supported him by smaller margins in past surveys.
White college-educated men split 43 percent to 42 percent between Clinton and Trump, while white college-graduate women favor Clinton by 12 points, smaller than some of her previous margins although significantly different from that of 2012, when Romney won the group.
Majorities dislike Clinton and Trump at end of campaign
As the campaign closes, both Clinton and Trump stand as more unpopular than any major-party nominees in Post-ABC polling history.
A 60 percent majority of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, while 56 percent are unfavorable toward Clinton, breaking in the opposite direction as last week when Clinton's negatives stood at 60 percent and Trump's at 58 percent. Fully half of the electorate has a “strongly unfavorable” view of Trump, and 46 percent for Clinton.
Nearly 1 in 5 likely voters have an unfavorable view of both Clinton and Trump (19 percent), four times the share who disliked both Obama and Romney four years ago. Those voters split about evenly between Clinton and Trump, 31 percent to 28 percent, with 20 percent backing Johnson and 7 percent supporting Stein.
Clinton and Trump’s images have improved little through the election year and are substantially worse than how voters rated their presidential choices four years ago. In early November 2012, 54 percent had a favorable impression of Obama while 53 percent had a positive view of Romney, with the Republican recovering from slight majority unfavorable marks in October. Neither candidate’s “strongly unfavorable” mark ever rose above 38 percent. This year, Clinton’s strongly unfavorable marks have only once been lower than 38 percent (in January), while Trump’s have never fallen below 45 percent.
With their own widespread unpopularity, both have relied on family members to make a positive pitch to voters, and likely voters narrowly think Trump’s family has been more effective. The Post-ABC poll finds 46 percent saying Trump’s family has been the greater asset to the candidate in the campaign, while 41 percent say the same of Clinton’s. Answers to this question, unsurprisingly, differ widely between those who support Trump and Clinton.
This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 2-5 among a random national sample of 2,854 adults including landline and cellphone respondents. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus two points; the error margin is plus or minus 2.5 points among the sample of 1,937 likely voters. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York.