Despite renewed controversy over her mishandling of top-secret State Department emails and her dealings with wealthy donors to the Clinton family global foundation, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is holding a commanding ten-point lead over Republican billionaire Donald Trump in a new national poll released on Thursday.
In some ways, this has been the worst week for Clinton since she claimed her party’s presidential nomination in late July. Nearly 15,000 of her previously undisclosed State Department emails surfaced this week during a federal court proceeding instigated by a conservative group seeking more damaging information about her conduct as secretary of state.
And Trump and other Republican critics are citing other emails between State Department and foundation officials that they suggest indicates a “pay to play” environment in which wealthy donors sought and received favors from Clinton and the Obama administration. Trump said in a speech today that the scandal was “the worst since Watergate.”
Yet the new nationwide survey conducted by Quinnipiac University on August 18 to 24 shows that Clinton continues to hold the solid lead she claimed shortly after the Democratic and Republican national conventions in late July and that she will be hard to beat if she maintains this pace.
Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 41 percent among likely American voters, according to poll. The results have a margin of error of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac results are Clinton’s strongest in weeks and exceeds the current six-point spread she enjoys over Trump in the Real Clear Politics cumulative average. Clinton has also done well in recent polling in a handful of critical battleground states, including Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Analysts say she holds a solid lead over Trump in the race for the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency.
“We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement accompanying the poll. “Trump’s missteps, stumbles and gaffes seem to outweigh Clinton’s shaky trust status and perceived shady dealings.”
A wild card in all of this is how third-party candidates will impact the campaign, which will go into high gear after Labor Day. Clinton’s lead over Trump shrinks to seven points when Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are thrown into the mix. In a four-candidate race, Clinton gets 45 percent to 38 percent for Trump, while Johnson garners 10 percent and Stein 4 percent.
As has been true for months, Clinton’s lead over Trump has been propelled by support from women and non-white voters, while Trump continues to depend heavily on white men to keep him in the race. The gender and racial divide are glaringly clear: Likely women voters back Clinton over Trump, 60 percent to 36 percent, while men favor Trump over Clinton, 48 percent to 42 percent. White voters support Trump by a margin of 52 percent to 41 percent, while blacks and Hispanics back Clinton 77 to 15 percent.
Trump’s problem with female voters in both parties is most apparent on the critical question of whether voters believe that Trump is qualified to be president.
Overall, a startling 58 percent of all voters said that Trump was not qualified and just 40 percent say he is qualified. While 49 percent of men say he is qualified to be president, only 32 percent of women agree with that. By contrast, 66 percent of Americans believe Clinton, the former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, is qualified to be president, including 60 percent of men and 62 percent of all women.
Trump this week made a pitch for support among African Americans and Hispanics, including a meeting on Thursday with a black and Hispanic advisory group at Trump Tower in New York. But even his move to soften his rhetoric about Hispanics and drop his pledge to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants in this country is unlikely to radically alter his low standing among Hispanics.
Trump and Clinton have both been saddled with negative ratings from voters, with Clinton particularly hurt by years of controversy over her mishandling of sensitive State Department email and documents and her close ties to Wall Street and other big donors.
Trump has battered immigrants, Muslims, people of Mexican heritage and even sitting GOP governors and lawmakers over the past year as he pressed for the nomination, although last week he voiced regret for some of the more hurtful things he has said, but without specifying what he was referring to.
In the latest survey, 44 percent of likely voters say they like Clinton “a lot” or “a little,” while 47 percent dislike her “a little” or “a lot,” and eight percent strongly dislike her. Just 35 percent of voters like Trump “a lot” or “a little,” while 53 percent dislike him “a little” or a lot,” and 10 percent hate him.