Clinton's Qualifications and Temperament Aid Her in Closing Days: Poll

Advantages on qualifications and temperament are holding firm for Clinton.

ByABC News
November 6, 2016, 12:00 AM

— -- Advantages on qualifications and temperament are holding firm as Hillary Clinton's prime strengths in the presidential election, while weakness in her perceived honesty is keeping Donald Trump in the hunt in the campaign's final days.

It's a 48-43 percent race between the two, with Clinton barely touching 48 percent by rounding in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll. That said, it's her best result since Oct. 26, and Trump has held numerical advantages just twice, +1 on Oct. 30 and +2 last May.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

The results in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, rest to some extent on the one-third of likely voters who say they've already voted. They go Clinton by 51-43 percent, leaving it closer among the two-thirds yet to vote when these interviews were completed.

Even though both candidates are remarkably unpopular, there's more affirmative voting for Clinton than for Trump, a factor that can motivate turnout. A majority of her supporters mainly support her, rather than opposing Trump. That's pretty much reversed for Trump: 51 percent of his backers mainly oppose Clinton, rather than supporting him.

Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have 4 percent and 2 percent support, respectively, with no clear indication that they disproportionately take votes from either candidate. (It's 49-44 percent, Clinton-Trump, in a two-way test.) While 6 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents back Johnson or Stein (mainly Johnson), 5 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents do the same (more split between Johnson and Stein.)

While they usually align, national vote preferences don't necessarily reflect the electoral college vote (as in 2000), and the contest is especially close in states identified by the ABC News Political Unit as toss-ups. Indeed Clinton’s lead holds only in solid or leaning Democratic states, with the largest share of the likely voter population. Trump leads, by a smaller margin, in GOP-aligned states, and it's 45-48 percent, Clinton-Trump, in the toss-ups in aggregate. (Those are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and New Hampshire.)


Critical to her prospects, Clinton leads Trump by a broad 55-36 percent among likely voters in being seen as more qualified to serve as president, and by an even wider margin, 58-32 percent, as having the better personality and temperament for the job.

Clinton leads Trump by narrower 7-point and 8-point margins in empathy and moral character. But it's Trump +4 on honesty, 40-44 percent -– not a significant gap, but a comparative weakness for Clinton. She clearly trailed Trump on this measure shortly after the FBI announced its renewed investigation into emails linked to her private server. And, in previous tracking data, she lagged Trump by 9 points in trust to handle corruption in government.

Ninety-three percent of Trump's supporters see him as more honest and trustworthy than Clinton. Marking her comparative weakness on this attribute, fewer of her own supporters, 84 percent, see her as more honest than Trump. Instead 11 percent say they don’t see either candidate as honest and trustworthy.

The tables turn when it comes to Clinton’s better attributes. Ninety-eight percent of her supporters see her as better qualified; fewer of Trump’s, 83 percent, say that about him. Nine percent of Trump’s supporters see Clinton as the more qualified candidate.

The difference is particularly striking on Clinton’s other advantage: Ninety-seven percent of her supporters say she has the better personality and temperament to serve effectively as president. Just 73 percent of Trump’s supporters say that about him; 13 percent in Trump’s own camp rate Clinton better on personality and temperament. (Eleven percent say neither’s is better.)

Judgments on these attributes largely hew to partisan and ideological lines. That said, a quarter of conservatives, peaking at 34 percent of "somewhat" conservatives, see Clinton as more qualified than Trump, and 29 percent and 39 percent, respectively, say she has the better personality and temperament for high office.


In terms of vote preference, the gender gap has narrowed by dint of a closer contest among men, now 42-45 percent, Clinton-Trump. She leads by 12 points among women, courtesy of nonwhite women (85-9 percent) and college-educated white women (54-38 percent).

That said, a gender gap rages in one particular population –- 18-to-35-year-olds, known as the millennial generation. Millennial men divide evenly between Clinton and Trump, 39-39 percent, with 14 percent for Johnson, among his best groups. Millennial women, by contrast, support Clinton by a wide 62-27 percent.

Among other groups, Clinton has closed to an even contest among independents, after trailing Trump by 19 points in this group Oct. 28. She’s reached a new high among nonwhites, 77-14 percent, including typical 87 percent support from blacks and better-than-typical 72 percent from Hispanics –- two groups critical to her fortunes on Tuesday.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Nov. 1-4, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,685 likely voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 2.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 37-31-28 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

Q6a and Q6b were asked Nov. 3-4 among 499 Clinton supporters and 470 Trump supporters, respectively. Those results have 5-point error margins.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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