Clinton, Trump in virtual tie ahead of first debate: Poll

AFP , Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (File Photo: AP)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in a virtual dead heat in their bitter race for the White House on the eve of their first head-to-head presidential debate, a new poll showed Sunday.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Clinton's slim margin from last month has now vanished. Instead, the Democrat and her Republican rival tied at 41 percent support among registered voters, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson at seven percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at two percent.

In a two-way match-up, Clinton and Trump each got 46 percent among registered voters.

While some other national surveys show Clinton with a lead, poll averages show a low, single-digit margin.

Gender, race and education were clear markers between the two candidates.

Men back Trump by 54 percent to 55 percent of women who said they support Clinton, the poll showed. Some 53 percent of white voters back Trump, compared to 37 percent for Clinton, while non-white voters back her 69 percent to 19 percent for her Republican rival.

Trump is ahead of Clinton by more than four to one among white men without college degrees, a gap that narrows for white women without college degrees and college-educated white men.

Among college educated white women, Clinton leads Trump in the poll by 57 percent to 32 percent.

The two candidates are still grappling with high negativity among voters.

Around 39 percent of registered voters see Clinton favorably, compared to 57 percent who have an unfavorable impression.

For Trump, 38 percent had a positive impression and 57 percent a negative one, a rating five points lower than it was prior to the two parties' national conventions in July.

While voters find both candidates lacking in honesty overall, Clinton's ratings were worse, with just 33 percent of voters finding her honest and trustworthy and 66 percent saying she is not.

Some 42 percent of voters said Trump was honest and trustworthy, while 53 percent said he was not.

Most voters (53 percent) who do not see Trump as qualified to be president, while 58 percent said he lacks the temperament to be an effective president and 55 percent said he lacked the world knowledge required for the job.

Meanwhile, Trump threatened Saturday to bringing a former lover of Clinton's husband Bill Clinton to the debate, one of a series of references he has made to the ex-president's infidelities.

His gibe came after billionaire investor Mark Cuban, a vocal Trump critic who backs Clinton, agreed to sit at the front of the audience for the televised debate, which is expected to shatter audience records with up to 90 million Americans watching.

"If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" tweeted Trump, himself a billionaire real estate investor.

Further complicating matters, a Twitter account linked to Flowers's official website said she would attend the highly anticipated showdown -- and suggested she backed Trump.

"Hi Donald. You know I'm in your corner and will definitely be at the debate!..." the tweet read, with a kiss emoji at the end.

Bill Clinton had an infamous affair with Flowers during his tenure as Arkansas governor that he later admitted under oath.

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