A new poll shows that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton would eke out a victory against Republican nominee Donald Trump in New Hampshire if the election were held today. The Mass INC poll released Wednesday shows that Clinton holds lead of 42% to Trump’s 40%. It’s important to note that Clinton’s lead is well within the 4.4% margin of error and that both candidates have an equal unfavorable rating at 58%. Six percent of voters would prefer a different candidate all-together and nine percent remain undecided.
Sen. Bernie Sanders fares much better against Trump leading 53% to 36%. This isn’t too much of a surprise considering that Sanders earned more than 60% of the vote in the Democratic primaries and the state has gone to the Democratic candidate in the previous three presidential elections. Furthermore, voters hold Sanders in a much more favorable light than they do Trump or Clinton. The senator is sitting at a 55% favorable rating compared with Clinton’s 35% and Trump’s 33%.
Clinton is ahead of Trump on several issues important to voters such as treating others with respect, improving America’s standing in the world and keeping the country safe. Clinton, at 36%, is considered more consistent than Trump, at 21%. It’s interesting to note that, despite Trump’s perceived lack of consistency, he is actually considered to be more honest and trustworthy than Clinton. 27% of voters consider Trump honest and trustworthy whereas only 26% consider Clinton trustworthy.
The one area that might hurt Clinton the most, especially if the result is mirrored across the country, is the economy. Trump has based a large part of his campaign around the idea that he is a successful businessman and knows how to create jobs. It would seem, in New Hampshire at least, that Trump’s showmanship has proven successful since, on the issue of the economy, he leads with 48% compared to Clinton’s 29%.
As Bill Clinton once famously said “it’s the economy, stupid” and, assuming this New Hampshire poll reflects national trends, the economy could be Trump’s biggest weapon against Clinton. Recent polling shows that the economy is the most important issue of the 2016 election. Eighty-six percent of voters say that the economy will be a “extremely important” or “very important” to them in the upcoming election and Trump has been hammering his economic message since his campaign began. The most obvious example is frequent, and often obnoxious, claims that he is a great businessman and has made a lot of money over the years. In spite of his four bankruptcies, Trump’s campaign has managed to brand him as a businessman who knows what it takes to get America’s economy going again. In fact, even some of Trump’s more unsavory ideas such as his plan to build a wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants have been dressed up as economic issues with Trump and his campaign claiming that illegal immigration is, at least partially, responsible for the America’s economic woes.
Perhaps Clinton’s biggest weakness when it comes to the economy, and an issue both Trump and Sanders have used against her, is her support of free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has vowed to fight these agreements via tariffs and other protectionist polices. Clinton has argued that such trade agreements, while in need of re-negotiation, are a good thing for the U.S. and the world. In an average election year, most Americans would probably agree with her more moderate stance. Of course, the fact that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee shows that this election will be anything, but ordinary.