While many Democrats once jokingly longed for a head-to-head matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton come November, it now appears as though the blustery billionaire is shaping up to be a more credible contender than Team Hillary ever dreamed. In fact, the presumptive Republican nominee might well be opening up a lead against his highly anticipated rival before either candidate has formally clinched a party nomination.
Late Wednesday evening, Fox News announced the results of a new poll asking voters who they would support if the presidential election were held at present. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, once considered a long shot to win a nomination, much less a general election, now edges Hillary Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent. While his lead remains within the poll’s margin of error, the overall results appear to suggest that Donald Trump has not lost any momentum over the course of recent weeks despite a spate of negative press and his own party’s lingering “Never Trump” movement.
The aforementioned poll is not without some bad news for Donald Trump, as he lags behind Clinton when it comes to women, African-Americans, and Hispanic voters.
Although Hillary Clinton appears to be losing luster in the eyes of swing voters, her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders still resonates with a formidable contingent of the electorate. According to Real Clear Politics, the Vermont senator tops Donald Trump in six different polls taken from April 17 to May 17. In every poll except for one, Sanders beats Trump by double digits. Indeed, these results are not lost on Sanders himself, who made mention of his continued appeal with voters during a campaign event on Tuesday night.
“There are a lot of people out there, many of the pundits and politicians, they say, ‘Bernie Sanders should drop out. The people of California should not have the right to determine who the next president will be.’ Well, let me be as clear as I can be: We are in till the last ballot is cast.” Sanders said in comments transcribed by the New York Times. “If they want the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders is that candidate,” he continued.
Even before the results of the Fox News poll were public knowledge, political news source The Hill speculated that the ongoing fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders might ultimately give Donald Trump an advantage in forthcoming national polls. Democratic strategist Chris Lehane suggested that lingering animosity between the two candidates distracts their party from constructing a convincing narrative against their shared rival.
“Every week, every news cycle, every tweet that goes by where the focus is not on the GOP presumptive nominee is a day lost in this race to seize the most advantageous ground to wage the general election,” said Lehane.
To be sure, Donald Trump appears to relish every moment of the discord in the Democratic camp. Early Wednesday morning – 4:20 a.m. Eastern, to be exact – the real estate mogul stirred the proverbial pot with a provocative tweet in which he suggested that Bernie Sanders is getting a raw deal from the Democratic establishment.
Bernie Sanders is being treated very badly by the Democrats – the system is rigged against him. Many of his disenfranchised fans are for me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2016
In the above-noted tweet, Trump also doubled down on earlier assertions that he can sway Sanders supporters over to his side in a general election contest against Clinton. But Bernie Sanders has repeatedly maintained that his ultimate goal is to unify the Democratic Party, even if it means throwing his support to Hillary Clinton after the Democratic Convention.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]