Nationwide poll by Centre College reveals Clinton maintains comfortable lead over Trump, Pence beats Kaine in hypothetical match-up

Posted by Centre News in News, Politics 26 Oct 2016

students pollingMORE | The “2016 Colonel’s Canvass Poll” was included in FiveThirtyEight’s nationally recognized statistical analysis of the presidential election.

A nationwide poll conducted by political scientists from Centre College in Danville, Ky., shows that Hillary Clinton is maintaining a 5-point advantage over Donald Trump among likely voters for the 2016 presidential election. This lead increases to seven points when respondents are asked to choose between only Clinton and Trump. Results from the poll also show that Clinton’s support among Democrats is stronger than Trump’s support among Republicans, and that Clinton is winning likely women voters by 17% while Trump is winning likely male voters by 6%, further evidence of a fallout from the release of the tapes revealing Trump’s claims of acts of sexual assault and Clinton’s stronger performance in the three presidential debates.

The “2016 Colonel’s Canvass Poll” is a randomized, nationally representative telephone survey conducted Oct. 18-23, 2016. It sampled 710 respondents, 38.1% of whom were reached via landline and 61.9% were reached via cellphone. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 3.7% for the full sample and 4.1% for the likely voter sample.

Centre College has a history of vice presidential connections, claiming as alumni former Vice Presidents Adlai E. Stevenson and John C. Breckinridge. Centre also hosted the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates. In that spirit, the 2016 Fall Colonel’s Canvass Poll showed that Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence would win convincingly in a hypothetical matchup against Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, 47% to 38%. This suggests that Republicans may have been able to comfortably win this year’s election if they had nominated a less controversial and more experienced candidate like Mike Pence.

More than two-thirds of poll respondents said that Mike Pence would make a better president than Donald Trump, while only 17% said Trump would make the better president. This split is also seen among Republicans, nearly 60% of whom say that Pence would make a better president than Trump.

Majorities of the public are also able to correctly identify Mike Pence and Tim Kaine as the Republican and Democratic vice presidential nominees, although Mike Pence is more well-known than Tim Kaine.

John Marshall Harlan Associate Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll conducted the survey in collaboration with Associate Professor Chris Paskewich, Pierce and Amelia Harrington Lively Professor of Politics and Law Dan Stroup, Visiting Assistant Professor Jennapher Lunde Seefeldt and Ryan New of Boyle County High School as part of a community-based learning component of their fall 2016 courses at both schools. In all, 165 students from Centre College and Boyle County High School participated in fielding the survey and administering the questions to respondents.

2016 PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES

The Fall Colonel’s Canvass Poll showed that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton maintains a five-point lead over Republican candidate Donald Trump among likely voters, 44.9% to 40.0%. Gary Johnson registered 6.0% among likely voters and Jill Stein 0.9%. Further, 2.7% of respondents said they would vote for someone else and 5.4% are undecided.

When likely voters who indicated a preference for Johnson, Stein or some other candidate were asked who they would vote for if only Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump were on the ballot, Clinton’s share of the vote increased to 49.3%, compared to 42.3% for Trump. In this scenario, 5.8% of respondents said they would not vote if only Clinton and Trump were on the ballot.

“This is very similar to what we have seen in other national polls over the last few weeks,” explains poll director Dr. Benjamin Knoll. “Hillary Clinton has maintained a fairly steady five- to seven-point lead over Donald Trump ever since the first presidential debate and the release of the Trump tapes revealing Trump’s claims of acts of sexual assault. Our poll findings are right in line with these national results, showing more evidence that these events moved the needle somewhat, and that the race is holding steady for now.”

Polling results also showed that Clinton has stronger support among her Democratic base than Trump has among his Republican base. Democrats indicated preferences for Clinton, Trump and Johnson by 83.2%, 6.3% and 4.9%, respectively. Republicans indicated preferences for Trump, Clinton and Johnson by 73.7%, 8.5% and 7.7%, respectively. When likely voter options were limited to only Clinton and Trump, 89.1% of Democrats indicated they would vote for Clinton and 6.7% said they would vote for Trump. Conversely, 77.6% of Republicans said they would vote for Trump and 10.8% said they would vote for Clinton, while a full 8.9% said they would not vote at all.

“My take away from these findings,” Knoll explains, “is that Trump has lost support of about one out of every ten Republicans who otherwise would tend to support the Republican candidate in a presidential election.”

There is also a clear gender gap in presidential voting preferences, with 51.9% of likely women voters intending to vote for Clinton compared to 35.0% for Trump, a difference of 16.9%. Trump enjoys a smaller 5.8% advantage among men, 44.6% to 38.8%. When limited to only Clinton and Trump, Clinton’s advantage among women increases to nearly 20% (56.4% vs. 36.8%), and Trump’s advantage among men decreases to about 4% (47.1% vs. 43.0%).

PREFERENCES IN A HYPOTHETICAL VICE PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Poll respondents were also asked to pretend that the presidential election featured only the various vice presidential candidates. In this scenario, Mike Pence was preferred by 47.3% of likely voters, compared to 38.0% who indicated Tim Kaine as their preference. Kaine was the clear favorite of likely Democratic voters at 70.0% compared to 11.6% for Mike Pence, while Pence and Kaine claimed 82.1% and 6.8% support among Republicans, respectively.

“This is important,” says Knoll, “because it gives us a hint of what this election might have looked like if the GOP had nominated a more conventional candidate. Political science models indicate that this is an election in which the Republicans should be slightly favored to win. Instead, the Democratic candidate is currently winning by about 5% in the polls. If the Republicans had nominated a less controversial and more experienced candidate, they could very well have been leading by as much as 9% right now, as indicated by Pence’s hypothetical lead over Kaine.”

In this hypothetical scenario, Pence claimed the support of 82.1% of likely Republican voters, compared to 73.7% who are planning to vote for Trump. For his part, Kaine claimed 70% of support among likely Democratic voters compared to 83.2% who are supporting Clinton. “It seems that Democrats like their candidate at the top of the ticket more than their vice presidential candidate while the opposite is true for Republicans,” explains Knoll.

OTHER VIEWS ON THE 2016 VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Roughly two weeks before election day, only two-thirds of respondents (67.1%) were able to correctly identify Tim Kaine as this year’s Democratic vice presidential candidate. Mike Pence had better name recognition, with 79.7% being able to correctly identify him as the current Republican vice presidential candidate. (In comparison, 90.1% of poll respondents were correctly able to identify Joe Biden as the current vice president, 30.4% correctly identified Loretta Lynch as the Attorney General and 26.8% as the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.)

When asked who would make a better president (regardless of who they currently support), 40.4% of poll respondents said Hillary Clinton compared to 36.9% who said Tim Kaine, her running mate. Among Democrats, 70.5% said Clinton would make a better president compared to 19.8% who thought Kaine would do a better job. Among Republicans, 16.2% said Clinton would do a better job compared to 50.2% who said Kaine would do better, with nearly a third (29.3%) volunteering that neither would do better.

There is a more pronounced difference between Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence. Among all respondents, 67.2% said Pence would make a better president compared to 17.1% who thought Trump would do a better job. Among Republicans specifically, Pence was still viewed as the better candidate than Trump, 59.8% to 33.1% respectively. Democrats also thought Pence would do a better job than Trump, 69.8% to 4.9%, with 23.1% saying that neither would do better.

“Once again,” says Knoll, “these findings seem to be showing that Democrats this year are enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton while ambivalent about Tim Kaine, and Republicans are less enthusiastic toward Donald Trump while expressing much more confidence in Mike Pence.”

OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

The Fall Colonel’s Canvass Poll also showed an approval rating of President Barack Obama of 49.9% compared to a disapproval of 44.4%. The president’s approval rating is 86.8% among Democrats and 17.0% among Republicans.

Full topline results for the survey questions (including margins of error) associated with this release can be found here.

Dr. Benjamin Knoll is available to comment on the survey results. He can be reached by email at benjamin.knoll@centre.edu or by office phone 859.238.5281.

October 25, 2016