A slew of post-convention polls has set the stage for the rest of the presidential race, and Donald Trump has a long way to go.
The first batch of top line numbers are in, and they show Hillary Clinton pulling away from the narrow lead she had over Trump going into last month’s conventions. Her lead, in polls taken in the last few days, varies from three to nine percentage points, depending on which poll you’re looking at.
The challenge now for Trump is cutting into the major deficits he is facing among certain groups where he trails not just Clinton, but Mitt Romney’s levels in 2012: groups like college-educated voters, which Romney won by 4 percentage points in exit polls, but where Trump is now losing in the double digits, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Trump will also likely need to improve his leads among groups where he is already outperforming past Republicans.
“If you’re down by eight or nine points, it’s hard to micro-target your way to victory. You’ve got to build the entire audience, because any subgroup can’t make up that big of a gap,” Douglas Usher, a pollster for Purple Strategies, told TPM. “You have to right the ship and improve your overall standing.”
With his race-baiting, off-the-cuff campaign style, it’s no surprise Trump is doing poorly with non-white voters who prefer Clinton to Trump, 83 percent to 12 percent, according to the CNN/ORC poll, which was taken in the three days after the Democratic National Convention.
But Trump is also alienating college-educated voters, a group Republicans in the past were able to woo. Trump was behind by three percentage points among voters with a bachelor’s degree, who prefer Clinton 44 percent to 41 percent, according to a Morning Consult poll taken in the two days following the DNC. In 2012, Romney beat Obama among college-educated voters 51 percent to 47 percent in the exits.
Trump’s problems with women voters — who make up a majority of the electorate — are also increasing the ground he’ll need to cover just to match Romney. Clinton’s lead with women voters is 13 percentage points in the CNN/ORC poll, which is greater than Obama’s 11 percentage point exit poll lead over Romney in 2012.
However, Trump has been able to best his Republican predecessors by getting traction in a few other groups coming out of the conventions. Among non-college educated voters — a group Obama won in 2012 — Trump is tied with Clinton at 41 percent, according to the Morning Consult poll. The CNN/ORC poll finds Clinton leading in this group by 3 percentage points, but there, Trump trounces her 60 percent to 34 percent among non-college educated white voters.
Trump is leading Clinton among male voters 51-44 percent in the CNN/ORC poll, which is about the same percentage point advantage Romney had against Obama in the 2012 exit polls.
“The question is if he’s reached his point among those groups, especially since nobody’s done that well in the past,” Usher said. “That’s the sticking point in the campaign. If you’re already over-performing in a group, how do you run up numbers beyond that?”