Continuing on the latest polls and loop in other data streams to tell the story of the 2016 campaign. Here are five numbers that mattered this week.
The enthusiasm gap is back – but this time, it favors the Democrats.
A Bloomberg Politics poll released this week – which, overall, gave Hillary Clinton a 12-point lead over Donald Trump – also showed Clinton’s backers are more enthusiastic about their candidate than Trump’s supporters. Just a third of Trump voters said they are “very enthusiastic” the New York real-estate tycoon is the GOP standard-bearer.
And even though Clinton has struggled to put away Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, voters who chose her over Trump are more enthusiastic: 43 percent said they are “very enthusiastic” about Clinton.
It’s a flip from the past six years or so, over which time Republican voters have been far more enthusiastic than Democrats. Part of President Barack Obama’s success in winning reelection four years ago was a superior turnout operation that mobilized voters who were telling pollsters they weren’t terribly psyched to cast their ballots.
The turnaround has been fairly quick. Polls on the eve of the primary process found Republicans significantly more enthusiastic about the presidential election. But that was before Trump, who won about 45 percent of votes in primaries and caucuses, became the presumptive nominee.
And it’s trickling down into the battleground states: Clinton’s lead in Wisconsin among all registered voters in a Marquette Law School poll released this week stood at seven points. But among those who said they were “certain” to vote, her lead expanded to nine points, 46 percent to 37 percent. Republicans, whose voters are typically more reliable to cast ballots, usually benefit from likely-voter screens.
A majority of voters are #NeverTrump.
That same Bloomberg poll asked, following the horse-race question, if respondents could ever support the other candidates. (So, for example, a voter said they would choose Trump, they were then asked if they could support Clinton or former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who is running on the Libertarian Party ticket.)
The results suggest little elasticity in the electorate, at least with regard to Clinton and Trump.
Trump won 37 percent on the ballot test, but 55 percent of likely voters said they could never support him for president. Just 7 percent of all voters weren’t Trump backers now, but could see themselves getting behind him, and 1 percent were not sure.
For Clinton, there’s similarly little room to grow, but she starts in much better position: 49 percent are supporting her, and 6 percent said they could see themselves in her camp. Forty-three percent of likely voters would never vote for Clinton, and only 2 percent were undecided.
Johnson won 9 percent on the ballot test, but an additional 22 percent said they could see themselves supporting him. Fully a quarter of likely voters said they weren’t sure.
The Bloomberg Politics poll was the best result for Clinton among the most recent public surveys, so it could be overstating her advantage at least somewhat. Still, the poll suggests voters won’t easily move into Trump’s corner as the campaign heads into the summer.
White women might be Trump’s most important constituency this November.
Despite the gender gap, white women are a traditionally Republican constituency: Mitt Romney won them by 14 points in 2012, according to exit polls. John McCain won them by seven points in 2008. George W. Bush carried them by 11 points four years before that.
But Trump is losing white women in this week’s CBS News survey: Clinton leads among white women, 42 percent to 35 percent – about the same as her six-point margin overall.
Trump does have a wide advantage among white men, 51 percent to 31 percent. But that lags behind Romney’s 27-point victory over Obama among white men four years ago, 62 percent to 37 percent.
According to Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein, the only Democrat to outpace the GOP candidate among white women was then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. Given Hillary Clinton’s built-in advantaged with non-white voters, a Clinton victory with white women likely portends an electoral landslide, at least in a two-way race.
Clinton began a major general-election push this week, launching about just under $20 million in television ads set to air in eight battleground states between now and the first day of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia next month.
The numbers are still poised to rise over the next few days. But the breakdown of Clinton’s spending is noteworthy.
About a quarter of Clinton’s planned spending, $4.9 million, is planned for Ohio. She’s also slated to spend $4.7 million each in Florida and North Carolina.
So far, Clinton is spending less in Colorado ($1.5 million), Iowa ($1.2 million), New Hampshire ($808,000), Nevada ($1.6 million) and Virginia ($1.6 million).
The ads are a mix of positive spots aimed at boosting her image and negative ads hitting Trump – who has been silent on the airwaves since the final contested GOP primary in Indiana last month.
Slowly but surely, California continues to count late-arriving ballots in the Democratic presidential primary held 11 days ago.
Clinton entered the late count following the June 7 primary ahead by 12.6 points – and when we last updated the tally in this space a week ago, her lead had shrunk slightly, to 12.4 points.
Since then, more than 700,000 additional ballots have been counted, and Sanders is making some headway. As of Friday night, Clinton’s lead was down to 10.1 points. Clinton has added about 450,000 votes since last Friday, while Sanders has about 350,000 additional votes.
Sanders has cited the California tally — which he said he expected to close significantly — as a reason not to end his candidacy formally, despite Clinton’s pivot to the general election. But elections officials in California don’t expect to certify the results for another month.