The latest CNN/ORC poll has Trump leading Clinton by 2 points in what CNN describes as “essentially even ground.” Would the network describe the race the same way if the situation were reversed? Probably not.
The survey shows Trump with 45% of likely voter support, Clinton with 43%, Libertarian Gary Johnson with 7%, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein with 2%. Once Johnson and Stein are removed from the horse race, Trump leads Clinton by 1 point, 49% to 48%, so it appears the “third party” candidates are splitting equally between Trump and Clinton.
CNN explains: “Clinton’s lead has largely evaporated despite a challenging month for Trump, which saw an overhaul of his campaign staff, announcements of support for Clinton from several high-profile Republicans and criticism of his campaign strategy.”
On the other hand, Trump has improved his message discipline and remains available to the press and the electorate, while Clinton has avoided the press and spent her time at fundraisers with her rich donors, as even the New York Times has noted.
The poll was also conducted immediately following the Friday release of a damning FBI report on Clinton’s interview about her home-brewed email server and mishandling of classified information. It’s probable that negative information affected the poll numbers at least somewhat, despite the fact that the information was released on Friday afternoon at the beginning of a long holiday weekend.
The perception of the race is much different than the hard numbers, as registered voters are much more likely to say that Clinton will be the victor in the fall: 59% say Clinton will win in November while only 34% say Trump will. And the number of voters who believe Clinton will win in November has increased by 4 points since June. Undoubtedly, the media has help shape this perception.
Another development in the poll is that Trump is now viewed more favorably than Clinton. Among likely voters, 45% hold a favorable opinion of Trump while 42% do of Clinton. However, for both candidates, more than half hold unfavorable impressions.
Hillary is still suffering from the perception that she is dishonest. Seventy percent of her supporters say she is more trustworthy than Trump whereas 90% of Trump supporters say he is more trustworthy than Hillary.
The poll was conducted by telephone between September 1-4, among a random sample of 1,001 adults.