U.S. Voters to Watch Debates Mulling ‘Risky’ and ‘Scary’ Choices

What Trump and Clinton Should Do to Win the Debate
  • Race tightening in Virginia, tossup in Colorado: CBS poll
  • Republicans getting behind Trump as Washington change-agent

Voter sentiment ahead of the first of three U.S. presidential debates underscores how the race remains a close call in some battleground states, as Americans decide between two candidates who are both viewed as “risky” and “scary.”

In Virginia, Democrat Hillary Clinton is leading Republican Donald Trump 45 percent to 37 percent, although her lead has shrunk from a 12-point advantage held in August, CBS News said in a statement on Sunday.

QuickTake Q&A: The First Debate

Colorado is regarded as a tossup, with Clinton ahead by 40 percent to 39 percent, and Republican voters there seem to have gotten behind Trump as a potential change-agent in Washington. Trump has a nine-point lead in Missouri, which voted Republican in recent presidential elections and isn’t considered a battleground state, the poll showed,

The results of the CBS News 2016 “Battleground Tracker” reflect a panel study based on 3,315 online interviews of voters in the three states conducted Sept. 21-23. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percent in Virginia, 4.4 percent in Colorado, and 3.9 percent in Missouri. 

A sizable share of each candidate’s supporters are voting against the opponent, CBS News said in a statement. In Colorado, 40 percent of Clinton’s voters back her as a way to block Trump, while 54 percent of Trump’s voters are looking to oppose Clinton.

‘Risky’ and ‘Scary’

In that vein, some 74 percent of likely Colorado voters deemed Trump “risky,” to 59 percent for Clinton, and 62 percent said Trump was “scary,” versus 57 percent for Clinton.

While more than eight in ten Colorado Democrats described former Secretary of State Clinton as “competent” and “responsible,” only about 40 percent said she was “exciting,” CBS News said. When the latter group were asked specifically why they didn’t find her so, the top answer was they had wanted Senator Bernie Sanders as the party nominee, followed closely by the response that Clinton is too close to politics as usual.

Trump did well within his own party in Colorado, being seen as “inspiring” by 72 percent of Republicans. And many Republicans who described him as risky are voting for him nonetheless, the poll showed. Some 91 percent of Republicans felt Trump, the billionaire real estate developer, would change Washington and 86 percent said he can fix the economy.

Clinton and Trump are set to square off at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday night, an event forecast to be one of the most-watched television events in U.S. history. An ABC News/Washington Post survey released on Sunday showed almost three in four Americans plan to watch the debate.

Nationally, Clinton leads Trump by an average of 2.5 percent, according to polls tracked by the RealClearPolitics website.

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