WASHINGTON: For the first time in the ongoing presidential campaign, Republican outsider Donald Trump has moved ahead of the leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in popularity, according to an opinion poll.
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Mr Trump leading Mrs Clinton 46 per cent to 44 per cent among registered voters. That’s an 11 per cent swing against Mrs Clinton since March.
Another poll, by NBC News and Wall Street Journal, shows Mrs Clinton at 46 per cent to Mr Trump’s 43 per cent. Previously she led 50 per cent to 39 per cent.
In the latest Real Clear Politics average, she is two-tenths of a point behind Mr Trump.
Poll results have also affected Mr Trump’s media coverage. Previously, the US media depicted him as a megalomaniac and narcissist who endorsed violence and racism and could lead the country to a disaster if elected. But now the media has begun to describe him as a more serious politician with a real possibility to make it to the White House after the Nov 6, 2016 election.
The change happened within a month. Until mid-April, Mrs Clinton had a big lead in national polls.
Explaining the change, the New York Times noted that “Mr Trump has made gains in unifying his party’s base, while Mrs Clinton has not done the same with hers. If anything, her problem with voters of Bernie Sanders has gotten a bit worse”.
ABC News noted that Mr Trump’s “enhanced competitiveness reflects consolidation in his support since his primary opponents dropped out, and it comes despite significant challenges to his candidacy”.
Mrs Clinton leads among women, non-white voters, college graduates and voters between the ages of 18 and 39 years. Mr Trump leads among men, white voters, voters without a college degree and all voters over 40 years old.
In the ABC poll most of the registered voters who plan to vote for Mr Trump say they mainly oppose Mrs Clinton than actually support the New York businessman.
By comparison, the registered voters who plan to vote for Mrs Clinton are split over whether or not their vote is a result of their support for the former secretary of state or their opposition to Mr Trump.
Mrs Clinton’s allies, however, blame it on Mr Sanders. They say that the long primary fight between the two, which looks like it could go all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, has taken a toll on Mrs Clinton’s standing in the polls.
“I don’t think he realises the damage he’s doing at this point,” one Clinton ally told The Hill, a congressional news outlet.