Polling Society survey shows Trump closing gap

by Ross Cristantiello / Beacon Staff • September 21, 2016

1474516349 dsc 9078.jpg
ECPS supervisor Spencer Kimball
ECPS supervisor Spencer Kimball

The Emerson College Polling Society released results last Thursday from a national poll that showed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a close tie. ECPS, which received national recognition from outlets such as MSNBC and Reuters in previous years, also conducted four individual polls in Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, and Georgia on the general election and individual senate races.

The national poll, conducted Sept. 11-13 through an automated calling system, is the first countrywide survey conducted by the ECPS since last December. It found Trump slightly ahead of Clinton by 2 percent. 

While the gap between the two major candidates is not large, ECPS supervisor Spencer Kimball said it does represent a change in momentum over the last few weeks. Clinton had a sizeable advantage over Trump throughout most of August in national polls. 

“What’s really driving this is [Clinton’s] low favorability ratings,” Kimball said. “The Trump campaign has been more aggressive… I also think she has had some of her own mistakes”

Clinton and Trump nationally both have about 12 percent higher unfavorable ratings than favorable ratings, according to the ECPS poll.

Kimball said that Clinton’s regression and Trump’s surge can be attributed to three factors: Trump’s hiring of former Citizens United President David Bossie as his new campaign manager, Clinton’s recent bout with pneumonia, and her comment calling half of Trump supporters “deplorables.”

It seems Americans are noticing the gap closing: 45 percent of those polled by ECPS still believe Clinton will win the election, but now 43 percent think Trump will edge out his opponent.

Another key finding from the national poll is that the gender gap is still significant. Clinton is ahead by 19 percent among women while Trump holds a 24 percent lead with male voters. 

As for the state polls, Trump is winning in all four. His lead climbed to 28 percent in Arkansas, the home state of Bill Clinton.

“I’m really not surprised to see Trump ahead, even though that’s Bill’s home state. [Arkansas] has been historically red so I’m not shocked there,” said Robynn Singer-Baefsky, a political communication major and co-president of ECPS. 

ECPS uses an interactive voice recognition system to automatically call hundreds, sometimes thousands of people at once. The organization polled 800 likely general election voters for the national poll, and 600 likely voters in each state they examined, according to a press release. 

Singer-Baefsky said ECPS could run as many as two regional polls per week until Nov. 8, the day of the national general election. The next national poll will likely come after the first presidential debate on Monday, Kimball said.