FBI Director James Comey’s findings last week that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling sensitive government email appear to have seriously undermined her campaign for president, with fresh signs that doubts about Clinton’s integrity and honesty are hurting her in key battleground states.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s standing in the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania has eroded, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released on Wednesday, providing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump with a big opening to seriously challenge or overtake her.
According to the new findings, Trump now leads Clinton in Florida, 42 percent to 39 percent, after trailing her by eight percentage points in June. He also holds a slender 43 percent to 41 percent lead over Clinton in Pennsylvania, a state where Clinton held a one-point lead last month. And in Ohio, Trump and Clinton are deadlocked, 41 percent to 41 percent, virtually similar to last month’s results.
On the essential question to Republican and Democratic voters alike as to which candidate is the “most honest and trustworthy,” Trump easily prevails over Clinton. Between 47 and 50 percent of the voters interviewed in the three key states said Trump was more trustworthy, compared to only 34 percent to 37 percent who said the same for Clinton.
Clinton, the former first lady, senator from New York and State Department chief, continues to lead the New York billionaire on questions of who is better prepared to be president and who is more intelligent. However, Trump rates higher among voters on the question of who would be the stronger leader and is more trustworthy, even while the two rivals rank equally low on the issue of their “moral standards.”
The survey was released as Trump readies to accept his party’s presidential nomination next week in Cleveland. He is busily meeting or conferring with potential vice presidential running mates, as he did Wednesday morning with Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
Meanwhile, Clinton is seeking to mend fences with her party’s liberal wing and cope with the fallout from last week’s jarring revelations about her handling of top secret emailed documents during her four years as secretary of state.
“Donald Trump enters the Republican Convention on a small roll in the three most important swing states in the country. He has wiped out Hillary Clinton’s lead in Florida; is on the upside of too-close to call races in Florida and Pennsylvania and is locked in a dead heat in Ohio,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement.
“While there is no definite link between Clinton’s drop in Florida and the U.S. Justice Department decision not to prosecute her for her handling of e-mails, she has lost ground to Trump on questions which measure moral standards and honesty,” he added.
The latest survey was conducted in the three states between June 30 and July 11. Comey revealed his decision not to seek charges against Clinton on July 5.
The controversy over her decision to use private email servers to conduct highly sensitive government business, and the risks she took in exposing top-secret documents to foreign hackers, have hung over Clinton’s campaign practically from the day she first announced her run for president more than a year ago.
Even while U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch accepted Comey’s recommendation not to seek a federal indictment against Clinton, Trump and congressional Republican leaders intend to keep the controversy front and center throughout the fall. Lynch and Comey both were called to testify before House Committee in recent days.
House GOP leaders have formally requested that the FBI open a new investigation into whether Clinton committed perjury related to her emails during her sworn testimony last October before a special House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks against a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
And House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is arguing that Clinton should be denied access to classified briefings typically provided to presidential nominees in light of “Clinton’s record of extraordinary lacks of discretion and judgement.”
Unfortunate for Clinton, many voters – including a sizeable number of Democrats and independents – disagree with the FBI and Justice Department’s decision not to charge Clinton. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 56 percent of Americans believe that Clinton should have been indicted, while 57 percent said the controversy makes them somewhat or very worried about how she might handle the job of president.