On the eve of tonight’s much-anticipated first debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, the latest Quinnipiac University poll says the race between the two is a virtual dead heat.
The poll, of 1,115 likely voters nationwide, was conducted Sept. 22-25 and showed Clinton leading Trump 44 to 43 percent, with 8 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and 2 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
The margins aren’t much different than what Quinnipiac pollsters found in a Sept. 14 survey that showed Clinton with a small 2 percent lead over Trump. When the third-party candidates were removed, Clinton’s lead was cut to 1 percent, which was still within the 3.2 percent margin of error.
Monday’s poll found that in a head-to-head matchup, Clinton still wins by a 1 percent margin with 47 percent of the vote to Trump’s 46 percent.
Forty-one percent of those polled said that Clinton will win tonight’s presidential debate.
A resounding 84 percent of voters saying they will watch tonight’s highly anticipated showdown.
“The race for president is a virtual tie and millions of likely voters consider the first debate must-see TV. And for those inclined to place a wager on the likely winner, Hillary Clinton is the best bet,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. “In this Super Bowl of American politics, the ratings will be huge and the contenders start dead even.”
The poll also measured voters overall level of interest in this year’s presidential race. Not surprisingly, it is higher than most presidential elections.
Fifty-five percent of likely voters nationwide say they are “more motivated than usual” to vote, while 11 percent say they are less motivated and 33 percent say their motivation is “about the same as usual.”
There is a small gender gap and a wide racial divide in the four-way likely voter matchup as Clinton leads 47-42 percent among women, while men go to Trump by a narrow 44-40 percent. Trump leads 50-36 percent among white voters, while non-white voters back Clinton 66-24 percent.
In the four-way presidential matchup, Trump leads 86-5 percent among Republicans and 42-35 percent among independent voters. Democrats back Clinton 90-6 percent.
Voters were also asked whether they were concerned about the health of Clinton, 68, or Trump, 70. American likely voters say 73-18 percent that Trump is healthy enough to be president. Clinton is healthy enough to be president, voters say, 58-31 percent.
For 33 percent of voters, their opinion of Trump was affected in a negative way by his participation in the so-called “birther movement” that said President Barack Obama was born outside the U.S., while 4 percent say their opinion was positive and 60 percent say it did not affect their opinion.
Trump’s announcement that he now believes President Obama was born in the U.S. did not affect their opinion of him, 78 percent of likely voters say.
A total of 50 percent of voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that they or a family member will be a victim of a terrorist attack, while 50 percent are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”
Government anti-terror policies have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country, 51 percent of voters say, while 27 percent say they have gone too far restricting civil liberties.
The poll has a 2.9 percent margin of error.