Ever since Hillary Clinton was generally acknowledged as having won the Democratic presidential nomination and Donald Trump went a little medieval on a “Mexican” judge, political observers have noted a small but steady rise in Clinton’s standing in general-election trial heats against Donald Trump, with or without Libertarian or Green candidates included. Now comes a reputable survey from Bloomberg showing Clinton’s lead has grown to 12 percent — or a landslide territory.
The survey was conducted by Ann Selzer, whose uncharacteristic miss in predicting the winner of the Iowa Republican caucus earlier this year doesn’t detract much from her overall record of accuracy. And the poll has a likely voter screen, unlike many taken at this early stage (pre-stage, really) of the general-election contest.
Selzer has Clinton with 49 percent, Trump with 37 percent, and Gary Johnson with 9 percent. Recent polls including Johnson have given him comparable or even higher numbers, but they’ve pegged Clinton’s lead at low single-digits. So this one is something new, and if reinforced by others, could show that Clinton has regained the solid lead she enjoyed over Trump earlier this year. The poll still shows some reluctance from Sanders supporters to get behind Clinton, so her lead appears mainly attributable to Trump’s continued weaknesses. He’s at 50 percent among white men, which is 12 points lower than Mitt Romney’s 2012 showing. Meanwhile, 55 percent of voters — and 63 percent of women — currently say they could never vote for Trump. That’s a real problem for the mogul, particularly since Clinton’s “never” percentage is a mere 43 percent.
You could make the argument that Johnson’s support levels are likely to fade down the stretch, with Trump disproportionately benefiting. But that will only matter if the two-candidate gap narrows significantly.
The Bloomberg poll also asked smaller sample questions about the Orlando massacre and the appropriate response, but in that realm it tells us what we already knew: A small majority opposes an assault-gun ban, and Trump has a narrow lead over Clinton as the better candidate to fight terrorism. But sizable majorities oppose Trump’s signature proposals to ban Muslim immigration and to subject Muslims already here to greater law-enforcement scrutiny.