Keiran Pedley looks at how unfolding events in New York and New Jersey might impact the US presidential race.
It is sadly inevitable that events in New York and New Jersey – coming so soon after the anniversary of 9/11 – will be analysed through the prism of the coming election. What is less clear is the impact they will have. The traditional view is that events surrounding national security will favour the Republican candidate. However, given that the Republican candidate is Donald Trump, you could be forgiven for thinking that the so-called ‘safe’ candidate Clinton will benefit. Or, perhaps most plausibly of all, it will make no difference as both candidates are deeply unpopular and voter perceptions of them are virtually set in stone already.
A YouGov / Economist poll, taken before recent events, helps shed some light on the subject. As expected, voters have reservations about both candidates. 55% of registered voters are ‘uneasy’ about Hilary Clinton’s ability to deal with terrorism with the same number uneasy about Trump. However, when it comes to who is ready to be Commander-in-Chief (or who is more qualified to be president) the verdict is clear:
The above figures are the race in a nutshell. Clinton’s numbers are not especially good but it’s a two-horse race and her numbers are better than Trump’s. Clinton knows this. Her comments this evening on events in New Jersey today show a candidate pitching clearly as the ‘safe pair of hands’ when it comes to national security:
“I have sat at that table in the [White House] Situation Room,” she said. “I’ve analysed the threats. I’ve contributed to actions that have neutralised our enemies. I know how to do this.”
Clinton will hope such words hold sway with voters come November.
For Trump there is work to do. When 59% of Independents and even one in four Republicans think you are not qualified to be president you have a problem. He will spend the coming weeks trying to change such perceptions and arguing that a vote for Clinton represents a continuation of failed Obama policies in the Middle East. Expect him to go big on immigration too. His ability to win such arguments will be key to his eventual chances of success.
Clinton maintains her Pennsylvania firewall
Meanwhile, after an awful week, there was some good news for the Clinton campaign this weekend with a Pennsylvania poll showing her 9 points ahead of Trump. This gives Clinton a lead averaging 6.6 points in the Keystone state with Real Clear Politics. Listeners to this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast (episode below) will know the importance of Pennsylvania. Steven Shepard, chief polling analyst at Politico in Washington DC, explains why it could decide the election. Whilst Clinton maintains a lead there her campaign will remain quietly confident that she will eventually prevail.
Keiran Pedley presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley. You can listen to the most recent podcast below – a special on the US election featuring Steven Shepard from Politico and Federica Cocco from the Financial Times: