The Slatest

Clinton, Trump Locked in a Statistical Dead Heat, According to Latest Polls

A combination photo shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Los Angeles on May 5 and in Eugene, Oregon, on May 6, respectively.

Lucy Nicholson and Jim Urquhart/Reuters




Hillary Clinton’s once-comfortable advantage over Donald Trump appears to have vanished, according to the latest polls. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton continues to hold the lead over Trump by 3 points—46 percent to 43 percent—but that is within the survey’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points. And it is a far cry from the 11-point advantage Clinton had over Trump in April. Things are flipped in the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows Trump on top by 2 points—46 percent to 44 percent—and that is also well within the margin of error. That poll also shows how voters appear to be warming to Trump, as his support amounts to an 11-point gain in support since March. In contrast, Bernie Sanders leads Trump by a much more comfortable margin: 54 percent to 39 percent, according to the NBC/WSJ poll.

A big part of the reason why Trump appears to have improved in the polls is that Republicans are starting to unite behind his candidacy. The share of Republican voters who say they will support Clinton dropped to 6 percent from 13 percent in mid-April, notes the Journal. And in a potentially troubling development for Democrats, both polls show Trump’s favorability rating has improved over the past few months. Democratic support for Clinton remained relatively steady as she continues to battle Sanders in the remaining primaries.

In the most hard-fought states, the trend is very similar, although Clinton does appear to have an edge in Ohio, where she leads Trump by 5 points. In Florida, Clinton has a 1-point lead—43 percent to 42 percent, according to CBS News.

Beyond the horse-race numbers, if there is one thing that is clear from all the numbers is that Americans generally don’t like the two top candidates for the presidency. “Never in the history of the Post-ABC poll have the two major party nominees been viewed as harshly as Clinton and Trump,” notes the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal agrees, noting that Clinton and Trump “suffer from the worst public images in the modern history of presidential politics, with 58 percent viewing Mr. Trump negatively and 54 percent expressing similar sentiments about Mrs. Clinton.”

According to the Post/ABC poll, a majority, or 57 percent, of registered voters have a negative view of both candidates. Clinton is viewed positively by 41 percent of registered voters, very close to Trump’s 40 percent. That means voters say they will be casting a ballot as much against the other candidate as in favor of their own.

In contrast to both Trump and Clinton, Bernie Sanders has a positive rating—49 percent to 41 percent. Yet he is hardly the only politician viewed positively. In what is a good sign for Clinton, President Obama is seen positively as his approval ratings have stayed at 51 percent. Moody’s Analytics recently cited Obama’s approval ratings as one of the key reasons why it expects Clinton to win the White House. The Moody’s Analytics model, which has correctly predicted every presidential contest since 1980, claims the Democratic nominee would get 332 electoral votes compared to 206 for the Republican nominee.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.