Trump Has 5-Point Lead in Bloomberg Poll of Battleground Ohio

The gap underscores the Democrat’s challenges in critical Rust Belt states after one of the roughest stretches of her campaign.

Trump Has 5-Point Ohio Lead Over Clinton: Bloomberg Poll

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in a Bloomberg Politics poll of Ohio, a gap that underscores the Democrat’s challenges in critical Rust Belt states after one of the roughest stretches of her campaign.

The Republican nominee leads Clinton 48 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in a two-way contest and 44 percent to 39 percent when third-party candidates are included.

The poll was taken Friday through Monday, as Clinton faced backlash for saying half of Trump supporters were a “basket of deplorables” and amid renewed concerns about her health after a video showed her stumbling as she left a Sept. 11 ceremony with what her campaign later said was a bout of pneumonia.

Trump’s performance in the poll—including strength among men, independents, and union households—is better than in other recent surveys of the state. It deals a blow to Clinton after she enjoyed polling advantages nationally and in most battleground states in August before the race tightened in September as more Republican voters unified around Trump.

Read the questions and methodology for the poll in Ohio, a state that has backed the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1964, here.

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“I’m tired of career politicians being in office and nothing’s ever changed,” said Darren Roberts, 45, a facilities maintenance and home improvement retail worker who lives in Columbus and considers himself an independent. “I don’t like all of his policies, but I really don’t like Hillary Clinton’s.”

Trump's strength in Ohio, a state critical to his path to the White House, comes even as seven in 10 say they view one of his signature campaign pledges—to build a wall along the southern U.S. border funded by Mexico—as unrealistic. (Mexico’s peso weakened, reversing an earlier gain, after the poll showed Trump leading.)

The survey shows a strong majority of likely Ohio voters, 57 percent, are skeptical of trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement that was backed by Clinton's husband when he was president and that Trump has used to his political advantage. One in five say such deals help increase exports and employment, and 23 percent aren’t sure. More than four in 10 Clinton supporters see NAFTA as a bad deal, compared to seven in 10 Trump loyalists.

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Another Republican, Senator Rob Portman, holds a commanding lead of 53 percent to 36 percent over former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland in the state's U.S. Senate contest. The incumbent leads with a ratio of more than 2-to-1 among independents and is even getting 14 percent from Democrats and those who lean that way.

A sizable share of Ohio's likely voters seem ready to vote a split ticket, the poll shows, with 20 percent of Clinton's supporters also backing Portman. Just 9 percent of Trump supporters are backing Strickland.

Senator Rob Portman speaks during a news conference on May 19, 2016, in Washington.
Senator Rob Portman speaks during a news conference on May 19, 2016, in Washington.
Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

When asked whom likely voters support for the U.S. House in their district without the interviewers naming any specific candidates, 51 percent picked Republican or leaned that way, while 38 percent picked Democratic or leaned that way.

Some of the Ohio demographic groups where Trump has the biggest edge over Clinton are white men without a college degree (+43 percentage points), white men overall (+27 percentage points), and white women without a college degree (+23 percentage points).

More than a third of poll participants, 38 percent, say either they or someone in their household has been unemployed because of layoffs or company closings during the past decade or looked for work but been unable to find a job. Within that group, Trump outperforms Clinton 51 percent to 38 percent.

“Our party breakdown differs from other polls, but resembles what happened in Ohio in 2004,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, whose Iowa-based firm Selzer & Co. oversaw the survey. “It is very difficult to say today who will and who will not show up to vote on Election Day. Our poll suggests more Republicans than Democrats would do that in an Ohio election held today, as they did in 2004 when George W. Bush carried the state by a narrow margin. In 2012, more Democrats showed up.”

A higher proportion of men and older voters—groups that tilt Republican—passed the survey's likely-voter screen than typical in past election cycles, Selzer said, boosting Trump's numbers.

Party breakdown for the poll was 33 percent Republican, 29 percent Democrats, and 34 percent independents. Exit polling shows that Ohio's electorate in the 2012 presidential election was 38 percent Democratic, 31 percent Republican, and 31 percent independent, while in 2004 it was 40 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic, and 25 percent independent.

In the two-way race, Trump is backed by 85 percent of Republicans and those who lean that way, compared to 92 percent of Democrats and those who lean that way for Clinton.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and included interviews with 802 likely Ohio voters. For subgroups, such as just Trump or just Clinton voters, the margin of error is higher.

In the four-way race, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson gets 10 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein receives 3 percent. Each is struggling to reach the 15-percent average needed in national polls recognized by the presidential debate commission be included in the first debate on Sept. 26.

The poll suggests Johnson may be taking some support from younger voters that might traditionally go to a Democrat. Among those under 35 years old, Johnson is getting support from 22 percent in a four-way race, with the remainder splitting fairly evenly between Clinton and Trump, 36 percent to 33 percent.

Trump is winning three of five Ohio regions the poll carved out to weigh geographic strength. His strongest is southeast Ohio, which includes Appalachian counties he carried in the state's Republican primary in March—a contest he lost overall to Governor John Kasich. Trump is getting 61 percent of the vote there, compared to 31 percent for Clinton.

The best area for Clinton is in the northeast, which includes the Democratic strongholds of Cleveland and Youngstown where Trump is trying to sway working-class voters and Clinton is pushing for a high turnout of base supporters, including African-Americans. The Clinton campaign on Wednesday morning announced it was opening six new offices in Ohio, including three in the northeast, bringing its total to 54.

Jane Tucker of Canton, 57, a retired line cook and chef, said she finds Trump “a loose cannon” and his lack of experience “downright scary.”

“Hillary knows that it’s going to take work, and it’s going to take commitment by both Republicans and Democrats to work together to get anything done,” said Tucker, who calls herself an independent who leans Democratic.

Clinton’s voters are more positive about her candidacy than those backing Trump are about his, with 56 percent saying their alignment with her is more an act of support than to stop Trump. His fans, meanwhile, are more closely divided, with 49 percent saying their vote is more to support him and 45 percent more related to their disdain for her.

Trump is viewed slightly more favorably than Clinton among Ohio voters, 45 percent to 40 percent. President Barack Obama records a higher number than both of them, with 46 percent viewing him positively. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, is also viewed positively in the state by 46 percent.

Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, the governor of neighboring Indiana, is viewed more favorably than Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democratic No. 2, 48 percent to 37 percent.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump praised as a stronger leader than Obama as recently as last week, drawing criticism, is viewed favorably by just 9 percent in Ohio while 73 percent see him negatively.

The poll suggests Trump could have benefited in Ohio from a better relationship with Kasich. The two-term governor and former presidential primary rival scored the highest favorability rating, 59 percent, among 13 people tested in the poll.

Kasich has said that despite a pledge during his presidential campaign to support the Republican nominee, he can’t back Trump because he's too divisive. That led former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to say in July during the Republican National Convention that Kasich was being “petulant” and “embarrassing his party” in Ohio.

The governor's role in the fight for Ohio is mixed. While 45 percent of Trump’s supporters said they were more likely to back him because of Kasich’s lack of support, 31 percent of all likely voters said it made them less likely to back Trump, while almost a third said it made no difference.

Reflecting Kasich's strong favorability rating, 57 percent of likely voters say the state is headed in the right direction.

The poll found that unemployment and jobs are the top issue for Ohio's likely voters, with 36 percent picking it from a list of eight options.

Trump has made a strong pitch for working-class voters in Ohio by hammering Clinton on her previous support for trade deals and promising to return companies and jobs that have left. Ohio lost 111,400 manufacturing jobs during the past decade, third most in the U.S., federal data show.

More than half of likely voters, 57 percent, say they are bothered a lot by Trump’s mocking of reporter’s physical disability, the highest level of displeasure among three issues challenging Trump that were tested. Almost four in 10 say they are bothered a lot that Trump has not released his tax returns, while 40 percent say that about his charitable foundation’s illegal contribution to the Florida attorney general's political group as she was deciding not to investigate fraud claims against Trump University. Trump has paid an IRS penalty and reimbursed the foundation, his company said.

For Clinton, three controversies, all from her days as secretary of state, each triggered more than half of likely voters to say they were bothered a lot: her handling of the Benghazi attacks where four Americans were killed (59 percent), her use of a private e-mail server that was criticized by the FBI director as “extremely careless” (57 percent), and her family foundation’s acceptance of money from foreign governments (53 percent).

Likely Ohio voters are split on the best approach for the Clinton Foundation going forward. A plurality of 39 percent say Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton should all sever ties with the foundation immediately. The next most popular option, at 29 percent, is for the Clintons to sever ties only if Hillary Clinton is elected president, followed by 24 percent who say the foundation should continue with Bill and Chelsea Clinton’s involvement even if Hillary Clinton is elected.

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