Clinton leads Trump in national poll ahead of debate

Sean Cockerham
McClatchy Washington Bureau

Washington — Hillary Clinton heads into the first presidential debate with a 7-point lead over Donald Trump, but doubts among voters about her trustworthiness and stamina are keeping Trump in the race, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Hillary Clinton is winning a national poll because voters trust her more than Trump to handle immigration, fight terrorism and manage the nation’s economy.

“You wouldn’t bet for Clinton,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide survey. “But you certainly wouldn’t bet against her at this time.”

The first presidential debate is Monday at Hofstra University in New York and “clearly the stakes couldn’t be any higher for both of them,” Miringoff said.

She leads in a two-way matchup with Trump by 48-41. She leads in a 4-way contest 45-39, with Libertarian Gary Johnson drawing 10 percent support and Green candidate Jill Stein getting 4 percent.

Clinton’s lead is built on her resume. She is winning because voters trust her more than Trump to handle immigration, fight terrorism and manage the nation’s economy, and think she has the experience to do the job.

The weakness she’s been unable to shake is the public’s view of her honesty and trustworthiness. While voters don’t trust Trump either, skepticism of Clinton runs deeper and provides an opening for Trump to potentially tighten the race in the final month and a half.

“When it comes to specific areas of public policy, she seems to dominate those,” pollster Miringoff said. “When it comes to the qualities of a candidate she has some convincing to do.”

Skepticism of Clinton runs deep and provides an opening for Donald Trump to potentially tighten the presidential race in the final month and a half.

Clinton dominates when it comes to experience, with likely voters by 57-30 saying she has the know-how to do the job. She wins on temperament, with voters by 50-38 giving her the edge.

“Some of the values Trump stands for, his morals, I just can’t get behind,” said Katie Harrington, 20, a junior at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “I can’t get behind someone who criticizes veterans, mocks women and outright attacks people of different nationalities.”

And Clinton scores when voters are thinking about the issues.

On immigration, they prefer her by 54-41.

On creating good jobs, they prefer her by 49-43.

On trade, they prefer her by 52-42.

And on handling terrorism, they prefer her over Trump by 52-41.

The survey of 1,298 adults was conducted Sept. 15-20 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy.T he margin of error for respondents ranged from plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.