Polls Find Sanders, Not Clinton, Has Better Chance Against Trump

Saturday, May 14, 2016


 Bernie Sanders

In a general election matchup, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders topples Donald Trump by twice as much as Hillary Clinton, according to polling data from RealClearPolitics. While this doesn’t seal the deal for a Sanders victory — a lot can and will happen in the six months between now and November — it certainly buoys Sanders’ assertion that he should remain in the race.

On the Republican side, the field narrowed for a decisive, final time last week as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich dropped out after Trump won the Indiana primary. Trump remains shy of the necessary 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination, but the lack of active competitors means the businessman-turned-reality-TV-star is the presumptive Republican nominee.

With a tumultuous GOP primary in the rearview mirror, Graphiq politics site InsideGov turns to general election matchups to see how Trump fares against each of his potential Democratic foes.


Trump vs. Clinton


In a December 2015 “Saturday Night Live” skit that saw the return of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, the comedy writers called a runaway win for Clinton against Trump. But a look at polling data paints a different picture.

As of May 9, Clinton holds about a six-point lead over Trump in a general election contest. As the visualization shows, the former secretary of state has maintained an advantage over Trump throughout the campaign, with the gap beginning to widen in mid-March.

On March 15, both Clinton and Trump scored big wins on Super Tuesday II, which might explain the shift. Although there have been many ups and downs in the race, that was a critical moment because it was one of the first times either Clinton or Trump truly proved their frontrunner status. Clinton swept the board, while Trump lost only one primary. In the process, Trump knocked out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who suffered a deflating loss in his home state and had been seen as one of the GOP’s best options to fend off Trump.

In some ways, that was the first instance a Clinton-Trump race looked like a real possibility. And since then, Clinton has maintained her lead, according to the polling data.

But the news isn’t all good for Clinton’s camp. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University shows tight races brewing between Clinton and Trump in the key battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

As the visualization shows, Clinton clings to a one-point lead in Florida and Pennsylvania. She is down by four in Ohio. The margin of error in all three surveys is plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning that these razor-thin differences are around this range.

Bottom line: These states are in tossup territory right now.


Trump vs. Sanders


Despite being far behind Clinton in the delegate race, Sanders continues to pledge to stay in the Democratic nomination contest until the final primary in June. While that has frustrated the Clinton campaign, general election polling indicates Sanders has a better shot than Clinton at beating Trump come November.

While Clinton currently has a 6.4-point lead over Trump, Sanders doubles that, according to polling data. As of May 9, Sanders is up by 13 points against Trump.

As was the case with Clinton, Sanders’ lead widened in mid-March, when Trump’s string of decisive primary wins suggested he was on his way to nabbing the Republican nomination. Since those victories, Trump has hovered at or below 40 percent against both Clinton and Sanders.

Sanders often reminds his supporters that polling data points to him beating Trump by a larger margin than Clinton. And, in the recent Quinnipiac poll on swing states, Sanders beats Trump by two points in Florida and Ohio, and by six points in Pennsylvania.

That same Quinnipiac poll also asked voters in each state about how they view the three remaining presidential candidates. In more good news for the Sanders camp, the Vermont senator was the only person who is viewed more favorably than unfavorably in all three battleground states. In Pennsylvania, Sanders has his highest score — a 50 percent favorability rating. In Florida and Ohio, 43 percent and 45 percent have a positive view of him, respectively.

Clinton and Trump, on the other hand, are viewed unfavorably by the majority of voters in the three states polled. Clinton’s unfavorable score hits a high of 62 percent in Ohio, while Trump’s top out at 57 percent in Florida and Ohio. In addition, voters seem to have made up their minds about those two candidates. In Ohio, for example, only 2 percent of voters said they haven’t heard enough about Clinton to decide if they viewed her positively or negatively. Trump’s numbers for that question were also in the low single digits.

There’s more wiggle room for Sanders, though. Between 12 and 14 percent of voters in those states said they hadn’t heard enough about Sanders to make an assessment.

These are good numbers for Sanders, but one figure continues to trip up his campaign: 2,383. That’s the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination. Even after wins in Indiana and West Virginia, Sanders remains far behind Clinton in the delegate count.

Delegate math continues to be a significant hurdle for Sanders. There are a total of 1,065 more Democratic delegates up for grabs in the primary process. He would need to win all but 115 to capture the nomination. The Kentucky and Oregon primaries take place on Tuesday.

More: Bernie Sanders Still the 2016 Fundraising Champ

Follow InsideGov on Twitter: @inside_gov

Research More About the 2016 Election


Related Slideshow: 10 Ways Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Are Actually Similar

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Universal Health Care 

Despite sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, Trump and Sanders essentially share the same healthcare plan. But you don’t have to take our word for it—Ted Cruz, Trump’s chief rival, said himself that Trump and Sanders “have basically the same healthcare plan," in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

"Donald Trump enthusiastically supported the TARP bailout of big banks. I opposed it. He enthusiastically supported Barack Obama's stimulus plan. He thought it should have been bigger. I think it was a disaster and a waste of money. Actually, Donald not only supported both of those, but he argued that Obamacare should be expanded to make it socialized medicine for everyone,” Cruz told Hannity

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Reforming Wall Street

Both candidates have made serious noise talking about reforming Wall Street. Bernie Sanders has just about made his whole career on taking on financial kingpins, and has attracted many young fans in the process.

While the uber-capitalist Trump may seem like the candidate to take on his fellow one-percenters, his words say something different. Trump blasted hedge fund managers on CBS, saying they are “getting away with murder,” on CBS’ “Face the Nation" in 2015.

"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,” Trump said.

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They Don't Take Money from Wall Street

It’s not just that the candidates criticize Wall Street and big banks—plenty do that. But Trump and Sanders back up their tough talk by not attracting campaign donations from those same financial institutions.

Sure, Hillary Clinton has taken aim at the major financial mavericks during her time on the campaign trail—what self-respecting Democrat hasn’t? But a closer look at her campaign financials shows that she isn’t putting her money where her mouth is.

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Their Campaigns are Populist Movements

Neither Trump nor Sanders are what you would call a “party darling.” Both have taken aim at the lions and leaders of their own parties have been unafraid to make controversial statements regarding the political establishments.

Instead, their campaigns have been buoyed by passionate, typically politically apathetic people. People who have finally found someone they  can relate to in the political landscape and someone they feel they can trust. Despite repeated predictions of failure, regular people continue to respond to their campaigns, as both Sanders and Trump remain near or at the polls as the primaries begin.

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The Most Unusual Candidates (Ever?)

Trump and Sanders are certainly the most unusual candidates this year, as both the Republican and Democratic fields contain typical governors, senators and congressman vying for the ultimate government job. It goes one step further, however—they may be the most unusual candidates a Presidential campaign has ever seen.

Sure, Trump isn’t the first rich eccentric to take a run at the Oval Office (just google Ross Perot if you don’t believe us.) But he’s certainly the first candidate to speak about immigrants and other races as he has.

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Massive Crowds

Political candidates of any variety like going where they are wanted. They make sure that there are plenty of warm well-wishers to make campaign events see exciting and full.

Trump and Sanders, however, seem to be able to attract raucous crowds that are more akin to rock concert or playoff game than a political rally. People come in costume, dressed as their favorite candidate. Teenagers, even though they cannot cast a vote, turn out in full face paint to support their candidate.

It’s happened all over the country. Record-setting crowds packed the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon and thousands filled the DCU Center to see Trump in Worcester, Massachusetts. Everywhere these candidates go, people rush to see them.

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Lots of Small-Money Donations

Typically, leading Presidential campaigns are powered by big money donations, but that’s not the case for Trump and Sanders.

As Graphiq shows us below, Sanders and Trump are one and two, respectively in the amount of campaign donations under $200—a sure sign of grassroots support.

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Real Talk

How often do you watch and listen to a political speaking, and find yourself drifting off to sleep or reaching for your iPhone?

That rarely seems to be the case when Trump or Sanders are on the mic. You never quite know when Trump will insult an entire religion or ethnic group in one thirty-second soundbite. 

Not to be outdone, Sanders folksy and frantic style of speech has attracted attention—and plenty of jokes and memes—from all across the internet.

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 Slated for Failure

Since the first day that each candidate announced their campaign, the political intellectual and elite have told everyone that they just don’t stand a chance. Trump and Sanders are too controversial, their too radical and they are too inexperienced. How many times did political analysts or other talking heads say they would be out of the race before the first votes are ever cast?

Yet here we are, just a few days away from the first caucuses and primaries. Neither Trump nor Sanders are out of the race. Neither is on their dying breaths. They are thriving. And, as you’ll see in our next slide, they are winning

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Leading in Iowa (and New Hampshire!)

If the latest polls are to believed these massively unusual candidates—one socialist, one real estate magnate/reality tv star, both with tons of small donations, both told they never had any chance—will be making victory speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire soon.

According to CNN, Trump has an 11 point lead among Republicans and Sanders an eight point lead among Democrats in Iowa just a few days before the caucus.

And in New Hampshire, as you’ll see below,  Trump and Sanders have double digit leads as we approach the first true primary.


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