Does Clinton’s 8-Point Lead Look Softer Than at First Blush? Clinton v. Trump on Policy & Personal Quality Matchups

  • Only 83 days until Election Day!
  • It has been a rough couple of weeks for Trump and a correspondingly good few for Clinton.  She leads Trump by an average of about 8 points, looking across all the polls.
  • As we head into this final stretch, key qualities—both policy positions and personal attributes—will come into greater relief and begin to define voter calculus about the candidates.
  • As such, what are those key qualities that American voters are looking for in their candidates for president?  And how do the two major party candidates match up on these key points?
  • In an attempt to answer these questions, we asked likely voters two sets of questions.
    • The first asked voters to rank order those qualities which are most important for a presidential candidate to possess.  Here we mixed both policy issues with personal qualities.
    • The second question asked which candidate was stronger on these points.
  • So what did we find?
  • In terms of quality importance, we find that the top three in order are “economy/jobs”, “terrorism”, and “fixing a broken system”.   For Republicans, “terrorism” is most important, followed closely by “economy/jobs”.  For Both Democrats and Independents, “economy/jobs” is also the most important with “terrorism” a more distant second.  In contrast, “fixing a broken system”—one of the central themes of Trump and his campaign—is a strong tertiary issue for both Republicans and Independents.
  • Here it is key to note that empirical studies have shown that the candidate which is strongest on the main issues (or qualities) wins the election 80% of the time.  So how do the candidates stack up on these points?
  • Simply put, the election still is far from over!  While Clinton does lead Trump on the top quality “stronger on economy/jobs” by five points, they are in a dead heat on “terrorism” and “fixing a broken system”–much closer than the 8 point average Clinton lead in the polls.
  • We should expect that these three interrelated qualities will be the battleground in the lead-up to the first debates and beyond.  The candidate who owns these qualities will win the election.

most important presidential qualitiesCandidate stronger on issues