Los Angeles Times ~ The 2016 election is shaping up to look remarkably like 2012, even though the Republicans are on the verge of nominating a very different candidate, new polls indicate.
The polling testifies to the powerful tug that partisan identity has on voters, even in an election year when many other traditional political expectations have gone out the window.
With only a few weeks left in the primary season, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have solidified support within their parties. As a result, national polls of the potential November election between the two have tightened.
Trump last week reached at least a truce with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the most prominent Republican holdout against him. Many, although certainly not all, major Republican figures and prominent donors have also said they would back the New York businessman.
Republican voters, who started embracing Trump before their party leaders did, have moved even faster. By 58%-39%, Republicans said they trusted Trump over Ryan to lead their party, the latest NBC SurveyMonkey poll found.
The survey found that 87% of self-identified Republicans said they would back Trump against Clinton in a fall matchup.
The same share of Democrats, 87%, say they would back Clinton against Trump, the poll found.
Trump, the survey found, would win heavily among white voters – carrying about the same share of the white vote as Mitt Romney did four years ago. Clinton would win overwhelmingly among blacks and Latinos.
As Romney did, Trump would win self-described independents – a group that leans to the Republican side overall. But, also like Romney, he would lose self-described moderates to the Democrat.
With the same lineup as 2012, not suprisingly, the poll comes up with almost the same result. President Obama won reelection by a four-point margin in the popular vote; the new poll has Clinton leading Trump by three points.
Another online survey, from Morning Consult , a media and polling firm, found a slightly tighter race – Clinton ahead by two points. That survey had a sample that was more than 80% white, a higher share of white voters than seems probable for the actual 2016 turnout, which would shift the results in Trump’s direction.
Whether the contest will stay this close for the next six months remains to be seen. Many Republican elected officials and strategists fear that Trump will do notably worse than Romney did in key states, something that national surveys would not necessarily disclose, and worry that he will drag down their candidates for other offices, particularly the Senate.
The super PAC allied with Clinton plans to begin an advertising barrage against Trump in four battleground states tomorrow.
Meantime, as the primaries wind down with Clinton the prohibitive favorite to win, the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll also found she has regained a double-digit lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders as the candidate Democrats want to see as their nominee.
In April, Clinton had only a six- or seven-point lead over Sanders in NBC’s national surveys. For the past three weeks, her lead has been twice that large – 54%-40% in the latest survey.
The NBC/SurveyMonkey and the Morning Consult polls were both conducted online. The SurveyMonkey poll was conducted May 9-15 among a national sample of 14,100 adults aged 18 and over, including 12,507 registered voters. It has an error estimate of +/- 1.2 percentage points for the full sample.
The Morning Consult poll survey was conducted May 11-15 among a national sample of 3971 registered voters. It has an error estimate of +/- 2 points.
by David Lauter, Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau chief