The folks over in the Old Dominion have a new poll out documenting the presidential preferences of people with phones who call Virginia home.
Roanoke College surveyed 610 likely voters and found, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, the respondents split down the middle 38%-38% between Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party presidential candidate) and Donald Trump (Republican Party presidential candidate) (article here).
Since the start of 2016, there have only been two other state-wide polls that I could find. One, from last month, from Christopher Newport (and written about in this blog here) showed Clinton with a nine-point margin of victory (44%-35% over Trump). The first Virginia poll of this year, from Roanoke College in January, showed Clinton defeating Trump by seventeen points (52%-35% over Trump, 524 likely voters, margin of error 4.3 percentage points, PDF file to crosstab results here, PDF file to topline results here).
While a breakdown of the voter demographic to help explain why the Democratic Party candidate has dropped fourteen percentage points or an analysis as to why the Republican Party candidate has increased his vote share by three percentage points is not the main point of this particular post, I will make the following observations.
–Among female voters, Clinton saw her share of that demographic decline from 52% in the January Roanoke College poll to 43% in the May poll.
–Clinton saw her share of the younger vote also decrease. The May polls shows that 44% of the voters between the ages of 18-29 would vote for Clinton as opposed to the 50% that would support her when voters between the ages of 18-34 were asked their presidential preference in January.
–Trump’s “loyalty gap” vanished. In January’s survey, only 67% of Republican voters would vote for Trump. In May, that figure is 81%. In January, 26% of Republican voters said they would vote for the Democratic Party nominee. In May, only 4% said they would jump to the other side.
What is interesting about this poll (and my main point of this particular post) is the number of folks who will take a pass on either Clinton or Trump. In this latest survey from Roanoke College, just a shade over three-quarters (76%) of the respondents would select either of the major party candidates for president. Eleven percent said they would vote for another candidate. An equal amount (11%) said they were “unsure” who they would vote for in a two-person contest between Trump and Clinton. Finally, 2% said they would not vote if Clinton and Trump were the candidates on the ballot.
That’s nearly a quarter (24%) of a voting population that would choose neither of the major party candidates for president.
This appears to be a trend where a sizable chunk of poll respondents take a pass on both Trump and Clinton.
In the latest CBS News/YouGov poll from Florida, 15% did not show a preference. A Quinnipiac poll this month in Ohio had a figure of 17% not pulling the lever for either of major party candidates. An April poll from the Star-Tribune about the attitudes of voters in Minnesota shows 17% of the voters are “undecided”.
I have not done a full analysis of all the polls in tossup states executed since the start of this year, but it would be fascinating to see how many “undecided” voters there are. Even at a level of ten percent, that amount of voters on the fence could possibly sway a state (and its votes in the Electoral College) one way or another.
Who are the “undecided”? What is their demographic breakdown? What do they want? What will it take to make them decide one way or another (or a third way to a third party candidate)?
If I knew the answers to those questions, I would be a political consultant instead of writing a blog.