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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton locked in tight race nationally - CBS/NYT poll

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto

With the first debate less than two weeks away, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a tight race for the presidency nationally. Clinton has just a 2-point edge in a two-way match-up among likely voters. The race is tied when third party candidates are included. Among the broader electorate of registered voters, Clinton leads Trump by five points.

One disadvantage for Clinton is diminished voter enthusiasm. Democrats are less enthusiastic about voting now than they were in August.  

More than four in 10 voters think each presidential candidate should release more of their medical records.  This poll was conducted before either candidate’s recent release of medical information.

With Election Day just under eight weeks away, the race for President nationwide is tight. In a two-way match-up, Clinton has a slim edge over Trump, 46 - 44 percent among likely voters who support or lean toward a candidate.

This is the first national poll in which CBS News and the New York Times have measured the presidential race among likely voters. The measure for likely voters takes into account voters’ reported intent to vote, enthusiasm about voting and other factors that historically affect an individual’s decision to vote.

Among the broader electorate – registered voters nationwide – Clinton leads Trump by five points, 46 percent to 41 percent.


When third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are factored in, the race is tied, with Trump and Clinton each getting the backing of 42 percent of likely voters. While Clinton and Trump retain most of their support when Johnson and Stein are included, slightly more of Clinton’s supporters move to Johnson or Stein, compared to Trump’s supporters.

Among registered voters, Clinton has a slight edge over Trump in a four-way contest.  


Most Clinton and Trump voters say they’re sticking with their candidate.  Ninety-two percent of Trump voters and 94 percent of Clinton voters say their choice is set.  Few say they will change their minds before the election.

Enthusiasm and Strength of Support

Thirty-six percent of registered voters overall now say they are very enthusiastic about voting, the same as a month ago.  But one disadvantage for Clinton is that enthusiasm among Republican voters has remained steady, while enthusiasm among Democrats has dropped.  Among Democratic voters, the percentage that is at least somewhat enthusiastic has dropped from 77 percent in August to 64 percent today, while the percentage of Democrats who are very enthusiastic has dropped nine points – from 47 percent to 38 percent.  

More specifically, Trump supporters are more excited about voting than Clinton’s supporters are. Forty-five percent of Trump voters say they are very enthusiastic about voting, compared to 36 percent of Clinton backers who feel that way.

Just over half of each candidate’s voters say they strongly support their candidate, but for many, support is not so strong - including a quarter who are voting for their candidate because they dislike the other choice.

Who’s Supporting Whom?

Trump now garners support from just under nine in ten Republican voters, as does Clinton among Democrats.  

A look at the candidates’ demographic support also illustrates why the race is close. A gender gap remains: Trump has a double-digit lead over Clinton among men, while Clinton is ahead by a similar margin among women. Trump continues to struggle with African American voters but has an advantage over Clinton among whites.

Whites without a college degree are strong supporters of Trump (58 percent back him), while Clinton leads Trump among white voters with a college degree.

Clinton is ahead of Trump among voters under 30 but she is not getting the level of support Barack Obama received in 2012. 48 percent of young voters are currently backing her, while Obama won 60 percent of the young vote in 2012. Only 29 percent of young voters are supporting Trump, but 21 percent say they’ll vote for someone else or won’t vote.  


The Candidates’ Medical Records

After Clinton’s bout of illness at the 9/11 ceremony and the announcement of her pneumonia diagnosis, more than four in 10 voters think each presidential candidate should release more of their medical records.  About as many think the candidates have released enough information about their health already. The poll was conducted before either candidate’s recent release of medical records.

Over half of Republicans think Clinton should release more medical records concerning her health, but 52 percent think their nominee has released enough information already. Among Democrats, most (53 percent) say Clinton has released enough health information already, but want Trump to release more of his records.   

This poll was conducted by telephone September 9-13, 2016 among a random sample of 1,753 adults nationwide, including 1,433 registered voters.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News and The New York Times by SSRS of Media, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers.  

The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample and the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

The sample of likely voters is modeled among registered voters (N=1,433), assigning each respondent a probability of voting based on their responses. The margin of error for the sample of likely voters is plus or minus three points.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.  

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