May Poll Shows Work To Do For Clinton and Trump

Viewed through the American Communities Project county-level breakdown, Hillary Clinton looks good in the Big Cities and very good in the Urban Suburbs in the May NBC/WSJ poll. Donald Trump looks good in the suburban Sprawl and Rural America counties.

The numbers suggest there is a strong split in the Democratic Party, particularly where young people are concerned – Clinton is currently 9 points below President Barack Obama’s 2012 numbers in Books and Barracks counties. Much of that can be attributed to very poor showings in College Town counties in this survey.

Among Republicans, Trump seems to be having trouble corralling support among those with stronger religious beliefs – his numbers in Faith Driven America counties are 14 points below Mitt Romney’s 2012 numbers.

Below, a closer look at the good and bad news for the each of the two likely nominees. You can use this blog post to see where these places are located.

% of 2012 Electorate

Names

Obama

‘12

Romney ‘12

Clinton

Trump

22%

Big Cities

65%

34%

62%

30%

22%

Urban Suburbs

57%

41%

57%

32%

18%

The Sprawl

43%

55%

34%

55%

13%

Rural America

42%

56%

27%

64%

10%

Books and Barracks

48%

50%

39%

45%

8%

Minority Centers

51%

48%

47%

45%

7%

Faith Driven America

31%

68%

31%

52%

Clinton’s Good News: Obama won the White House by winning the Urban Suburbs. Big Cities have long been reliably Democratic, the swing for him came in those big Urban Suburbs. The latest poll shows Clinton currently has Obama’s number in those places, 57%, while Trump is nine points lower than Romney was in those places in 2012.

So even if Trump captures all the undecided, Clinton would hold Obama’s edge. That shows Trump’s inability, thus far, to gain in those places that are crucial to winning the popular vote and key states including PA, MI, VA, FL and, perhaps, NC.

Clinton’s Bad News: Clinton’s support in Books and Barracks counties, 39%, is nine points under Obama’s figure. Those counties around military bases and college towns and it’s the latter group that’s hurting Clinton most.

It’s a very small sample in the College Towns, but Trump narrowly leads Clinton in those places. That’s significant because in the same poll, Sanders beats Trump in the head-to-head in those counties by double digits. Clinton has work to do to win the support of those voters and, come November, to bring those voters out.

Trump’s Good News: In the counties we call The Sprawl, Trump is currently hitting Romney’s percentage, 55%, and it is Clinton who is down 9 points from Obama’s number. Those counties are a mix of exurbs and older less-diverse suburbs.

And Trump looks very strong in Rural America. His 64% in those older, less populous counties, is eight points higher than Romney’s 56% in 2012. And Clinton’s 27% is 15 points lower than Obama’s 42% in 2012.

Some of Clinton’s struggles in those places may well be attributed to Sanders, who has done very well in these counties – and older rural whites in general – in the Democratic primaries so far. But Trump’s higher support may well be about the economic hardship in them.

Trump’s Bad News: In Faith Driven America Trump is 14 points under Romney’s 2012 number in those counties in the current poll, while Clinton is even with Obama’s number in those places – 31%.

That means Trump has not solidified support in these places yet.

Don’t expect Clinton’s support to climb in those places; that is likely a pretty solid ceiling. But there are questions about whether these voters will come out for him. In a way these are his “College Towns” and he has a lot of work to do here.

Overall: Advantage Clinton
Keep in mind, however, the 2012 election went to Obama by five points overall in the popular vote. That is to say, Trump has to find a way to over perform what Romney did in some of these places. And Clinton seems to have a good hold on the places that hold the most votes – the Big Cities and Urban Suburbs.

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