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New Tribune-Hinckley poll: Trump leads Clinton by 9 percentage points

Published September 26, 2016 11:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah's likely voters believe Donald Trump is more honest than Hillary Clinton. They think he'd be a better commander in chief and better suited to handle terrorism, immigration and the economy.

But that doesn't mean Utahns like the Republican candidate, who continues to poll poorly in one of the most conservative states in the nation, albeit high enough to maintain a lead in the presidential race.

A new Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll finds that Trump is up by 9 percentage points over Clinton, 34 percent to 25 percent.



"To not have either candidate get even close to 40 percent is kind of telling about how much support they have in the state," said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

No third-party candidate has been able to emerge either. The poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19, had Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson receiving 13 percent and independent conservative Evan McMullin at 12 percent. Eight percent of respondents said they would write in a name and 8 percent declined to answer the question. Green Party candidate Jill Stein received just 1 percent.

A late August poll of the state conducted by Public Policy Polling found Trump with a 15-point lead on Clinton.

Perry said it appears the third-party candidates are "cannibalizing each other" and he predicts, as the race gets down to the final weeks, some of the voters now supporting Johnson and McMullin will switch to one of the major-party nominees.

Prominent Utah supporters of Clinton and Trump agree with that assessment, they just disagree on where those voters will eventually end up.

"This is a red state," said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, one of the first high-profile Republicans in the state to support Trump. "And it is going to stay that way."

He believes more conservatives turned off by Trump's brash, combative style, and a few of his policy positions on issues, such as immigration, will eventually vote Republican.

"His issues, I think, do reflect our political position as a state on the whole," Hughes said. "I want people to be more comfortable with that decision."

The Tribune-Hinckley poll clearly shows that Utah voters dislike both candidates, but they dislike Clinton more than Trump and believe he is better on some key issues.

Clinton, the former secretary of state under President Barack Obama, has a 71 percent unfavorable rating, with 57 percent saying their view of her is "very unfavorable." Trump's unfavorable rating is 58 percent, with 42 percent selecting the "very unfavorable" option.

When asked which candidate would be most honest, 50 percent picked Trump and 24 percent selected Clinton. Trump led by a similar margin when respondents were asked who would be better for the economy and better on terrorism, which they identified as the top two issues facing the nation. The Republican led by smaller margins when respondents were asked about immigration and who would make a better commander in chief.

The numbers show just how much of a struggle the Democrat has in Utah, even as she runs against a highly unpopular Republican.

But Jenny Wilson, a Salt Lake County councilwoman who has led Clinton's effort in the state, finds the poll and Trump's 9-point advantage encouraging in a state where Democrats usually falter in statewide contests.

"We know that this race is volatile and people are still trying to figure out where to go," she said. "People may see some weaknesses, but ultimately they know she will be a better president, a safer president and deliver for the nation."

She predicts a portion of those Johnson and McMullin voters will gravitate to Clinton, particularly after the presidential debates.

"People just recognize the idea of Donald Trump as president is very risky, to say the least," she said.

The poll found major age and gender gaps in how Utahns sized up the candidates.

Trump holds commanding leads among voters 45 and older, but struggles with younger voters. He is actually behind Johnson among voters under 25 years old and trails McMullin with voters between 25 and 34. Clinton holds an advantage over all rivals with both age groups.

Trump has a 17-point advantage over Clinton among men (39 percent to 22 percent), but is up by only 1 point among women (28 percent to 27 percent). A plurality of women also thought Clinton would be a better commander in chief than Trump and better on the issue of immigration.

"I'm encouraged to see that women are excited about her candidacy," Wilson said, noting Clinton would be the nation's first female president if elected.

The age and gender discrepancies and the poor approval ratings found in Utah mirror what polls have found nationwide. But in this rough-and-tumble election year, Hughes believes those results hold less meaning.

"What does being a nice guy and having a high approval rating get you? Does it get you elected? Not in this country right now. It just doesn't," he said, noting that Ohio Gov. John Kasich had high approval ratings but fared poorly in GOP primaries. Instead, Hughes urged voters to look at the two major candidates and decide which one "moves the needle" in the direction they want the country to go.

The poll included 820 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.42 percentage points.

mcanham@sltrib.com Twitter: @mattcanham INSIDE

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