With three weeks until Election Day, Hillary Clinton holds a four-point lead over Donald Trump in the race for the White House, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with the Republican nominee hobbled by persistent perceptions that he is not qualified to be president.
The poll was conducted during one of the most tumultuous periods of Trump’s candidacy, after the release of a video in which he spoke about taking sexual advantage of women and during a time when numerous women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Nearly 7 in 10 respondents believe Trump probably made unwanted sexual advances, and a majority say his apology for boasts about forcing himself on women on a hot-mic videotape was insincere.
Nonetheless, the controversy appeared to have had only a minimal impact on his overall support.
Overall, Clinton leads Trump by 47-43 per cent among likely voters, a slight edge given the survey’s four-percentage-point error margin.
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has the support of 5 per cent, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein is at 2 per cent.
Among registered voters, the poll shows a similar four-point margin, with Clinton at 44, Trump at 40, Johnson at 6 and Stein at 3. In a two-way match-up, Clinton leads Trump by 50-46 per cent among likely voters and by 50-44 per cent among registered voters.
The current findings show only slight changes from the last Post-ABC survey, which was taken on the eve of the first presidential debate.
At that time, Clinton held an insignificant two-point edge over Trump among likely voters.
The findings are somewhat better for Trump than other polls taken since the video, but if Clinton were to maintain such an advantage until Election Day, that could translate into a sizable electoral college majority.
Supporters of both candidates are locked in, with 88 percent of Trump supporters and 89 percent of Clinton backers saying they will “definitely” support their current preference.
The survey also underscored the hardening of the lines between those supporting Trump and those who are not.
One question in particular highlighted this divide.
Asked whether it was appropriate for Trump to say that, if he were in charge of law enforcement in this country, his opponent would be in jail for her use of a private email server, about 4 in 10 likely voters said yes, compared with 57 per cent who said no.
More than 7 in 10 Republicans and more than 8 in 10 Trump supporters called the language appropriate.
There is clearly less enthusiasm on the part of Clinton’s and Trump’s supporters than previous nominees have enjoyed at this stage of the campaign.
Fully 83 per cent of Clinton’s backers and 79 per cent of Trump’s supporters say they are very or somewhat enthusiastic about their candidate.
Four years ago at this time, more than 90 per cent of both President Obama’s and Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s supporters described themselves as enthusiastic.
Meanwhile, antipathy toward the other side is at extremely high levels, as 87 per cent of likely voters supporting Trump have a “strongly unfavourable” view of Clinton, and 90 per cent of Clinton backers have a strong negative view of Trump.
The Oct. 7 release of the 11-year-old “Access Hollywood” video, which captured Trump on a hot mic speaking in crude and degrading ways about women, brought a torrent of criticism on Trump and caused significant defections among Republican elected officials.
Trump issued a series of statements apologizing for what he said on the video, but nearly 6 in 10 likely voters say they do not think the apology was sincere, including more than one-fifth of Republicans and more than 6 in 10 independents.
The poll also finds that slightly more than a third of all likely voters say the video will make them less likely to vote for him, including 13 per cent of Republicans.