A new poll from Emerson College puts Donald Trump ahead by two points nationally and by four points in Colorado.
In a press release, the college’s polling experts called the race a “dead heat,” with the national results within the margin of error of 3.4 percent.
This is Emerson College’s first poll since the general election season started and the second poll to show Trump ahead of Clinton in Colorado.
As with other polls that show the race tightening, the presence of third-party candidates, particularly Libertarian Gary Johnson, seems to be chipping away at Clinton’s support.
Emerson identifies a number of other factors. Voters expectations seem to be shifting from a strong assumption that Clinton will win to a nearly even split in who people think will win. While some of those thinking Trump will win could be pessimistic Democrats, what people think is possible shapes how people vote.
Both candidates have always had unusually high unfavorable ratings, but Trump used to have much worse ratings than Clinton in this regard. Now that gap seems to be narrowing.
Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis seems to be hurting her with undecided voters and those who like third-party candidates. Overall, 46 percent of respondents said it would make no difference in how they voted, 28 percent said they would be more likely to vote for her and 26 percent said they would be less likely to vote for, which Emerson says suggests the issue is a wash. However, 36 percent of undecided and third-party voters said the pneumonia diagnosis made them less likely to vote for Clinton.
(I would say it should be a wash. Vote how you want, but changing your mind because someone got sick? Come on, American voter!)
A few interesting findings specific to Colorado: Clinton has a strong lead among women nationally, with 53 percent of them planning to vote for her, while Trump leads with men at 52 percent. In Colorado, Clinton and Trump are tied among women at 41 percent, while Trump maintains his lead among men with 43 percent.
Johnson also has a higher level of support here, and in particular, a higher level of support among women. The poll found 11 percent of Colorado women planning to vote for Johnson and 15 percent of Colorado men.
Politico has a good look today at Johnson’s support in the West and the role he’s playing in the race. The conventional wisdom had been that Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, would primarily draw votes from Republicans unhappy with Trump, but in the West, where a certain libertarian sentiment holds sway across the parties, Johnson is drawing votes from people unhappy with both major party options. Some voters who would default to Clinton if the only other choice were Trump are breaking for Johnson.
The answer for the Clinton campaign is to focus on turnout by her Democratic base. Politico also notes that Clinton’s commanding lead in polls over the summer may have made a protest vote seem safer, and that may change if the polls remain narrow or if Trump pulls ahead in the final months.
Emerson also looked at Senate races in Colorado and three other states. They found Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet with a seven point lead, 43 percent to 36 percent, over Republican challenger Darryl Glenn. Emerson calls it a “solid lead,” and it certainly is. It’s also the narrowest the Senate race has been.