Trump edges out Clinton in new presidential poll

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L), U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. © Reuters
Republican front-runner Donald Trump has surpassed the Democrats’ presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in a national poll for the first time. Trump is favored by 41 percent of likely US voters to Clinton’s 39 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports.

The national telephone survey released Monday shows Trump and Clinton tied at 38 percent if voters are given an option of staying home on Election Day. Absent that option, however, the billionaire businessman edges ahead of the former first lady by two percentage points. Clinton led by seven points in early March, the conservative polling agency noted.

Trump now enjoys the support of 73 percent of the Republicans, while 89 percent of the GOP faithful believe he will be the party’s nominee on the November ballot. Clinton is backed by 77 percent of the Democrats, while 91 percent think she will be the nominee.

“For Bernie Sanders and the #NeverTrump forces on the Republican side, Indiana is likely to be their last stand,” the polling agency said.

The poll shows that 15 percent of Democrats would vote for Trump in a general election, while only 8 percent of Republicans would favor Clinton instead. Among the voters not affiliated with either party, Trump leads with 37 percent to Clinton’s 31 percent, with 9 percent undecided and 23 percent favored another candidate.

Backers of the remaining candidates in the presidential contest reacted to the poll in different ways. Trump supporters cheered it as proof their candidate is winning.

Critics of Trump within the GOP joined the Democrats backing Clinton to point out that Rasmussen’s polls also showed Mitt Romney narrowly defeating Barack Obama in 2012. In reality, Obama was re-elected by a 4-point margin.

Some partisans of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders quoted the poll to call for the Democrats to back their candidate over the unpopular Clinton. Matched against Trump, Sanders has a 14.7 lead nationally, according to polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, which also show Clinton 7.3 points ahead of Trump.

The same aggregated polls show Sanders beating every Republican candidate in a direct match-up, while the only GOP candidate with a chance to win would be Ohio Governor John Kasich, who would beat Clinton by 7.5 percent.

Kasich has won only one Republican primary, in his home state, and has fewer pledged delegates than Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race in mid-March.