By Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Sarah Dutton, Fred Backus and Kabir Khana
Hillary Clinton holds a three-point lead over Donald Trump in Florida, while in Texas – a state that has voted Republican by wide margins in recent years – Trump leads by a mere three points.
The poll numbers show voters’ frustration about the dialogue in the race – and what may amount to a wasted opportunity for both. Sixty-nine percent feel Donald Trump is talking about things that he, himself cares about, while fewer, 46 percent say he’s talking about issues they care about. Clinton has much the same gap.
And on one of those big topics Trump is talking about of late, Republicans in both places overwhelmingly echo. They back him on the suggestion – raised at the debate this week and elsewhere – that he might not accept the outcome. More than eight in ten Florida and Texas Republicans and believe that fraud is widespread, and more than eight in ten of those who say there is fraud believe that without it, Donald Trump would win the presidency. So in total, 72 percent of all Florida Republicans believe Trump would win in November were it not for fraud.
Sixty percent of all voters think both candidates should pledge to accept the results of the election, but fewer than half of Florida’s Republicans (42 percent) and only 31 percent of Trump’s supporters say so. Seventy-two percent of Trump voters and 60 percent of Republicans say Trump is “acting within his rights as a candidate” by, while 39 percent of voters overall feel Trump is “undermining a U.S. tradition” by doing so.
Taken in context, findings such as these bring to mind survey results elsewhere showing a general loss of faith in many established institutions. And voters – particularly those looking for change this year – have in polling throughout the season expressed doubts about the fairness of the economic system generally and have repeatedly said they felt the political system, as a whole, favors only a few.
Hillary Clinton, whom many voters said won the debate this week, has not persuaded Florida voters on key items such as her ability to fix the economy or that she understands regular people – fewer than half say she can or does. Only 37 percent feel she has explained the. She is below the 50 percent mark on whether she would “act with integrity” as president (49 percent say so). Clinton also fails to hit the 50 percent mark on whether she “understands regular people” (44 percent) and on the question of whether she “could fix the economy” (42 percent).
However, while 53 percent see Clinton as a risky choice, 66 percent see Trump as risky, and that relative difference looks like much of the real difference in the race.
The other key difference is that Clinton benefits from the strong support of her party, stronger than what Trump is getting from his party. Trump has the backing of 82 percent of Republicans, but that seemingly-high number isn’t enough to match Clinton’s 91 percent support with Democrats. That’s a disparity that has weighed on Trump throughout this race in Florida and other states. It is also part of the closer gap in Texas.
Those Florida Republicans who are with Trump are just as positive about him as they were in our late-summer survey. Forty-eight percent of Republicans are excited about the Trump campaign, the same level we found in Florida back in August. The percentage of Republicans who sayis the about the same, 31 percent now and 29 percent then. And only 22 percent of Florida Republicans are disappointed with the Trump campaign and 14 percent are angry about it – not sizeable numbers, but enough to be significant in a highly partisan era.
In 2012 Republicans won a double-digit victory in Texas, as they often do; it’s one of the most reliably Republican states in the nation. Today Texas is close, and is more a story of Trump underperforming rather than Clinton over-performing typical Democrats, and why despite the tightness it may still be difficult for the Democrats to actually get those last points and win the state outright. Clinton is doing about as well with key groups as President Obama did in 2008, but Trump is under-performing the Republican benchmarks by roughly ten points among white men, white women, and college whites in particular. Many of those not with Trump are unsure or voting third-party rather than Clinton.
In 2008 then-candidate Obama lost white men in Texas by more than fifty points and Clinton is down 35 points today. That’s still a big gap but the sheer number of voters that represents is part of the reason for the difference in the race. Meanwhile, Hispanics in Texas, who are supporting Clinton, say they feelthis year.
Though this campaign has turned acrimonious at times, it doesn’t sound like there are as many debates happening in homes in Texas and Florida. Voters report that people in their social circle tend to vote the same as they do. In Florida, three out of four Clinton voters and Trump voters say their candidate is favored by most of their friends and family. And fewer than one in three Clinton voters and Trump voters say that a friend or family member has tried to talk them out of their vote choice. This is a bit more evidence that – just as we found in the primaries this year – voters who back either candidate are neither isolated, nor reticent about doing so.
Despite trailing in the race, Florida’s Republicans would still vote to nominate Trump if given a chance to go back and vote in the primary again – a primary that marked a big victory for the Trump campaign. Today 35 percent would still go back and vote for Trump, well ahead of the 25 percent Marco Rubio would get today. So despite the loss of some endorsements and ongoing feuds with GOP leaders, the findings suggest that Trump voters – who have often said they did not pay much attention to the guidance of those party leaders – still feel Trump is closer to their positions than others who ran for the nomination this year.
Marco Rubio – who lost to Trump in that primary back in the spring – is, however, leading his Senate race by two points.
This CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker is a panel study based on 2,073 interviews conducted on the internet of registered voters in Florida and Texas Oct 20-21. The margin of error for Florida is ±3.6%, for Texas ±4.4%.