Insider vs. Outsider Matchup Finds Clinton, Trump Near Even

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump run essentially evenly among registered voters.

ByABC News
September 13, 2015, 9:00 AM

— -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump run essentially evenly among registered voters in a head-to-head matchup for president in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, testament to the strength of party loyalty as well as to Trump’s anti-establishment profile and anti-immigration views.

The hypothetical contest stands at 46-43 percent, Clinton-Trump, a gap that's within the survey's margin of sampling error. That compares to a clear Clinton lead among all adults, 51-39 percent, indicating her broad support in groups that are less apt to be registered to vote, such as young adults and racial and ethnic minorities.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

The close result in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, says as much about partisanship as it does about the candidates. Registered voters divide 45-40 percent between identifying themselves as Democrats, or leaning that way, vs. Republicans or GOP leaners. And 82 percent of leaned Democrats say they’d support Clinton, while 76 percent of leaned Republicans say they'd back Trump, were they the party nominees.

That said, Trump also is tapping factors including discontent with the political system, anti-immigration attitudes and dissatisfaction with the Obama administration. He leads Clinton by a broad 64-25 percent among registered voters who prefer a candidate from outside the political establishment and by 49-38 percent among those who strongly distrust politicians.

Trump also leads Clinton by 73-14 percent among those who favor his controversial views on immigration, 74-13 percent among those who disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, 68-22 percent among political conservatives and 52-36 percent among whites, a broadly pro-GOP group in recent years. (They favored Mitt Romney over Obama by 20 percentage points in 2012.) Among evangelical white Protestants, a core GOP group, Trump leads Clinton by 67-22 percent.

This analysis is the first slice of a new ABC/Post poll on the 2016 election. More detailed results on the primaries, views of candidate attributes and attitudes about the political system overall will be released Monday morning.

There are some important provisos in evaluating these results. Early polls are not predictive. They seek to measure preferences if the election were today, but the election is not today, and if it were, voters would have had a full campaign’s worth of information on which to base their choices – including whether to vote in the first place. Campaigns clearly do matter; front-runners have failed in past elections and single-digit candidates have surged to victory. Polls at this stage, then, are best used to understand attitude formation, not eventual election choices.

Statistical analysis shows which factors best predict Clinton vs. Trump preferences, holding all else equal. The biggest by far is whether or not registered voters support Trump’s positions on immigration. That’s followed by partisanship, preferring experience vs. a political outsider, ideology, race and gender.


Notably, in the general election matchup, Trump leads by 52-37 percent among men, while Clinton leads by 55-34 percent among women. Fifty-three percent of women in this survey say they're Democrats or lean that way, compared with 36 percent of men.