Clinton Opens Double-Digit Lead in National Poll

Brexit’s got people nervous about a possible Trump victory in November. It shouldn’t. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton opening up a double-digit lead over Trump, 51%-39%. Now that she has clinched the nomination, Clinton is beginning to consolidate and expand support—as many observers predicted she would.

The poll also shows:

First, Trump’s racism and sexism play well with a rump—though never a strong majority—of the GOP. Racism and sexism are a disaster, however, in the general electorate. Roughly two-thirds of those polled think Trump’s comments about Muslims, women, and racial minorities are racist and/or unfair, and an overwhelming majority strongly disapproves his recent comments about a judge whose parents were Mexican immigrants. Only 36% of the electorate thinks that Trump is standing up for their beliefs.

While some may claim that people are hiding their real views from the pollsters, we should remember that this was also often claimed in 2008, that there was a sleeper racist cell in the country that was going to vote in McCain. We know how that ended. We should also remember that women are the majority of the electorate, and non-whites, in the last election, constituted 28% of the electorate.

Second, Trump’s handling of Orlando cost him. Only 28% of the electorate approved of it, whereas 46% approved of Clinton’s response to Orlando. That’s an 18-point spread. The Orlando massacre also did not make the voters more inclined to support Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration. The notion that terrorism makes people feel safer with Trump is risible.

In other words, the very things that many liberal-minded observers fear make Trump so strong and appealing to the voters—racism, ethno-nationalism, and terrorism—are in fact tremendous liabilities.

Third, not only are elite Republicans defecting to Clinton—the last few weeks saw top executives at AT&T and GM, as well as George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Richard Armitage, and Brent Scowcroft announcing their support for Clinton, and George Will announcing his exit from the GOP—but so are the rank-and-file. 13% of Republican voters who cast their ballots during the primaries for candidates other than Trump (which was the majority in many states) are now supporting Clinton.

Fourth, Obama’s approval ratings continue to climb. They are now at 56%. Incumbency approval or disapproval has an effect on the party’s candidate. Unless the candidate distances himself from the incumbent, as Gore did in 2000. Clinton shows no sign of repeating that mistake.

Fifth, 36% of the electorate now identifies as Democrat (up a few points from a month ago). Only 24% identifies as Republican.

And to cite the conclusion to The Reactionary Mind, to which no one ever paid any attention:
Which leads me to wonder about the long-term prospects of the Tea Party [remember them?], the latest variant of right-wing populism. Has the Tea Party given conservatism a new lease on life? Or is the Tea Party like the New Politics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the last spark of a spent force, its frantic energies a mask for the decline of the larger movement of which it is a part?…
Modern conservatism came onto the scene of the twentieth century in order to defeat the great social movements of the left. As far as the eye can see, it has achieved its purpose. Having done so, it now can leave. Whether it will, and how much it will take with it on its way out, remains to be seen.
Yes, polls can change, but we’re fast approaching that moment in a general election campaign, if we haven’t already, when the polls start becoming an increasingly good indicator of the national election results.
So to repeat my mantras since February: Donald Trump is going to go down as the George McGovern of the Republican Party. As someone who has been writing about conservatism since 2000 or so, I look forward to seeing my academic cottage industry put out of business.


  1. Sam June 26, 2016 at 10:52 am | #

    I could see a recession before November altering this general picture. Not much else.

    • xenon2 June 26, 2016 at 12:27 pm | #

      Sam, the world is still in a recession.

      Those figures the Dept of Labor still spews out,
      include only those still looking for work, only the
      ones who will accept the minimum wage, for what
      is perhaps their 2nd or 3rd job.

      Most of the people, outside of big cities, like ‘London’,
      have lost their jobs, jobs that paid over well, thru
      H1B visa, privatization, off-shoring, etc.Their children,
      fully-educated, have no choice but grad school (and
      debt) b/c there are very few (or no) jobs.

  2. xenon2 June 26, 2016 at 11:15 am | #

    O rly?

  3. John Maher June 26, 2016 at 11:23 am | #

    “As someone who has been writing about conservatism since 2000 or so, I look forward to seeing my academic cottage industry put out of business.”

    Brilliant turn of phrase. Let us hope the future of Corey in academic crofting is a takedown of neoliberalism.

  4. Ramesh June 26, 2016 at 11:32 am | #

    This downward trajectory of conservative movement will have its ups and lots of down and this might play out over two decades or more. In the immediate if HRC is adopting conservative ideas, how will this help conservative movement turning back in the next eight years?

  5. Ramesh June 26, 2016 at 11:39 am | #

    If Donald Trump is the George McGovern of the GOP, what does that make Hillary Clinton?

  6. Larry Houghteling June 26, 2016 at 11:43 am | #

    Dear Corey,

    On the whole I agree with you — things look good if one’s concern is the possibility of a Trump presidency. He’s playing badly, and his opponent is playing well. What this means to the average non-rich American (or member of the larger — i.e., world) constituency, only time will tell.

    But thow can you call Trump “the George McGovern of the Republican Party”? George was a worthy man who got swept up by historical forces (and blindsided by his vice-presidential pick’s failing to mention that past medical problems should exclude him from consideration. Tom Eagleton was an attractive candidate, and would have been a good choice but for his past psychiatic problems. If he had not had those problems, and been in normal VP candidate, the Democratic ticket would have lost by ten or twelve points, not 21.)

    Trump will be remembered by no one with any sense as a worthy man.

    • Corey Robin June 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm | #

      Larry, we’ve been through this already! Most recently in our email exchange from early May.

  7. Bill Barnes June 26, 2016 at 12:20 pm | #

    The meaning and significance of the results of pre-election public opinion polling, and their relationship to election outcomes, are very complex subjects with a huge specialist literature little known to most social scientists, not to mention journalists, pundits and policy intellectuals. Take a look at the literature on the polling controversy surrounding the 1990 election in Nicaragua, and the lessons drawn in the specialist literature over subsequent decades.

    Bill Barnes

  8. Heliopause June 26, 2016 at 1:14 pm | #

    This 12% poll is an outlier, the margin if you look at an aggregate of recent polls is much closer. That said, Clinton’s lead is still such that it will be nearly impossible to overcome barring a deus ex machina.

  9. Joel in Oakland June 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm | #

    I feel so sad for George Will, along with David Brooks. I suppose they’ll have to invite each other over for dinner on a regular basis in order to have someone who will take the other one seriously.

  10. Escottnyc June 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm | #

    Like you wrote long ago, modern conservatism achieved its purpose . Trump will be defeated but the drift away from the social movements of the left will continue.
    Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand. Otherwise he would have campaigned for counter- Revolution.
    So history will repeat the same old same old.

  11. Bill Barnes June 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm | #

    Notice the quite different results of the Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll done with a similar sample and on the same days:

    The sponsors and pollsters in both cases are absurdly firm in their interpretations of the meaning and reliability of their results (margin of error, my ass!). And neither discloses enough details about their methodology to allow any well-developed interpretations. For the next four months we are going to be overwhelmed by this kind of bullshit. The saving grace will be that it will provide material for a decade of PhD dissertations and journal articles – and hopefully (but probably not) some strong lessons learned by all involved.

  12. Foster Boondoggle June 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm | #

    “Modern conservatism came onto the scene of the twentieth century in order to defeat the great social movements of the left. As far as the eye can see, it has achieved its purpose.”
    This is an absurdly defeatist statement. Europe has a variety of forms of social democracy, with very few citizens in abject poverty. The extension of social expectations and growth of entitlements over the last century across the developed world has no parallel in history. Even in the relatively backward US, with social policy still constrained by racism, the New Deal changes have grown (admittedly in fits and starts), not retreated. Just because the dictatorship of the proletariat hasn’t emerged in the West doesn’t amount to a “defeat” of “the great social movements”.

  13. jonnybutter June 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm | #

    For the next four months we are going to be overwhelmed by this kind of bullshit.

    You don’t think the professional DC press would facilitate mis- or disinformation do you? C’mon, be civil.

    • Bill Barnes June 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm | #

      Intellectual laziness, incompetence, and devotion to hyping the horse race

  14. jonnybutter June 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm | #

    What’s magical about these horseshit polls that vary so much is that they encourage the queazy feeling that there really *are* no facts, only feelings – which happens to be perfect for tv!

  15. Stephen Fretz June 26, 2016 at 6:33 pm | #

    Trump’s polls are bad and worse, in the GOP’s eyes, he’s screwing up his fundraising. How does Paul Ryan poll against Hillary?

  16. Edward June 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm | #

    I have been waiting for Clinton to be indicted over the email scandal. How many scams are hidden in those 30,000 emails?

  17. mark June 27, 2016 at 4:59 am | #

    As someone who is living in one of the top twenty regions that voted Leave in the EU referendum (of 382 regions in total) the difference between Trump and the Leave campaign is that the core of the anti-EU strategy pivoted around the NHS (see graph in Simon Wren-Lewis’ blog, Thursday, 23 June 2016, ‘Why do people want less EU immigration?’).

    The linking of immigration to a supposedly worsening NHS began with Enoch Powell, and has been incubated ever since in the right-wing tabloids.

    When Baldwin (via Kipling) said “What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot through the ages”, he was exasperated by the outsiderdom of the press.

    But in 2016 UK, it is this press not the politicians that have visibly driven Brexit.

    So two beefs, the NHS fallacy and EU membership, that UK populism has attached itself to that Trump will never have.

    Now, Glen Newey on the LRB blog ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie on a Push Bike’ 22 February 2016 got at the reason why these UK press barons wanted Brexit focused on after the 2008 economic crisis rather than their own affairs:

    “Leave may also swell with the Brexity froth from orifices such as the Sun (controlled by US citizen Rupert Murdoch) and the Telegraph (owned by tax-swerving Brecqhuo-residents the Barclay brothers). Then there’s the Daily Mail, now 89 per cent owned by the non-dom fourth Viscount Rothermere, whose dividends are funnelled to him via a trust in Bermuda, and the über-Europhobe Express, owned by the billionaire pornographer Richard Desmond, who slalomed round HMRC via paper loans from Luxembourg (effective rate: under 1 per cent). The Brexit revolution offers a new spin on the American one: (over-)representation without taxation.”

    These five men, and to a lesser extent the Tory journalist-cum-politicians Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, now have to deliver the riches in the short-, medium-, and long-term that they have told their readers for 25 years will come to them once the UK leaves the EU and which every expert body said was a vanity of human wishes.

    Independence Day means, for them, for the first time, Power with Responsibility.

  18. Luke June 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm | #

    As someone with academic (but not personal) interest in conservatism and political right, I really appreciated that closing paragraph. I’d definitely rather the world not have to suffer just to make my thesis topic more relevant! On a somewhat related note, I’m curious as to what the aftermath of Trump will be for the extreme right in the US. While I suspect it will remain marginal as a whole, owing to the same factors you outline here, it occurs to me that nationalist movements and other more fringe groups might gain a boost from dissected conservatives and Trump supporters.

    • Luke June 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm | #

      *disaffected conservatives

  19. William T June 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm | #

    I would suggest the real risk now is that Trump is “persuaded” to step down and the huge sense of relief that a “moderate” republican is on the ballot leads to a quite different result.

  20. Dean July 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm | #

    A very strong article, Corey. I believe it will play out as you predict.

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