The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Clinton lags among voters in swing states against leading GOP hopefuls

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared last month with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a fundraiser in Fairfax County, Va. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Hillary Rodham Clinton would lose or tie for the presidency against three leading Republican hopefuls if the election were held today in three key swing states, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that Clinton has strikingly negative favorability ratings among voters in Virginia, Iowa and Colorado, especially compared with where she stood in the spring.

The numbers come at a time when Clinton has a massive fundraising lead, relatively weak competition for the Democratic nomination and more federal government experience than other candidates. Even with these advantages, the poll shows Clinton may be vulnerable in states that by all accounts will have an outsize say in who wins the White House next year.

The poll also found that voters appear to be turning on Donald Trump. Among all 23 Republicans and Democrats who could run for the White House, the bombastic real-estate mogul is at the bottom, with almost 2-to-1 unfavorable ratings. Among Republicans, only New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has unfavorable numbers nearly as low.

Despite Trump’s popularity with Republicans nationally in recent weeks, the poll suggests that comments he made disparaging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have taken a toll. Quinnipiac pollsters were still surveying voters two days after Trump said McCain, who spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison, was “not a war hero.”

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DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 27: Secretary Hillary Clinton after touring the DART Central Station, takes questions from journalists to highlight her climate change policy announcement, in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday, July 27, 2015. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

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On the other end of the Republican spectrum, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) are the favorites.

Bush fares the best in Virginia, where 43 percent of voters view him favorably, the poll shows. Colorado and Iowa voters appear more skeptical of him. He is at the top of the pack in favorability, but half or almost half of voters in those states view him unfavorably.

In matchups with Bush, Walker and Rubio, Clinton would lose by as many as 9 points in Colorado and Iowa. In Virginia, where Gov. Terry McAuliffe, her longtime friend and fundraiser, has enthusiastically endorsed her, Clinton would be defeated by those Republicans by only 2 or 3 percentage points, making the hypothetical races too close to call.

Her favorability ratings are upside down. In Colorado: 35 percent favorable to 56 percent unfavorable; in Iowa: 33 percent to 56 percent; and in Virginia: 41 percent to 50 percent.

Deeper in the poll, half or more than half of Virginia voters say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy and does not care about their needs and problems. Yet 54 percent say she is a strong leader.

Two Virginians in the mix of candidates and hopefuls don’t do so well on their home turf. Voters there give former senator Jim Webb (D), a declared candidate, a 30 percent to 23 percent favorable to unfavorable rating. Former governor Jim Gilmore (R), who is believed to be considering a run for president, is even less supported, with just 16 percent viewing him favorably.

In addition to Bush, Walker and Rubio, voters in Virginia and Iowa like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R).

Colorado and Iowa voters are also partial to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), former Texas governor Rick Perry (R) is making waves in Iowa, and Colorado likes retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

On the Democratic side, Vice President Biden does well in all three swing states, but he has not said whether he will run.

Quinnipiac University surveyed slightly more than 1,200 voters in each of the three states from July 9 to 20, in interviews on cellphones and land lines. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

The poll did not break down where Democrats and Republicans stand on the many candidates; Virginia voters do not register by party. Some of the Republicans had not announced at the time the survey was taken.