By David A. Patten
GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump enjoys a commanding 47 to 31 percent lead over expected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton among independent voters, according to an exclusive Newsmax/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey that the organizations released Wednesday afternoon. While the online survey of 1,500 registered voters shows the former secretary of state essentially tied with the GOP front-runner, 45 to 44 percent, the poll’s most eye-popping result is Clinton’s pronounced weakness among independent voters, where she trails Trump by 16 points.
The results fly in the face of most pundits’ predictions that Trump’s strong personality and tough policies would alienate the temperate “swing” voters, who often decide the outcome of national elections.
Trump continues to have high negatives after a bruising primary season, but Hillary appears to be in even worse shape.
“They don’t necessarily like him. But they dislike her more,” said Tony Fabrizio, a veteran of four presidential campaigns and co-founder and partner of the polling firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates.
Fabrizio is a nationally recognized GOP strategist and pollster who played a pivotal role in electing Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, the surprise tea party winner in the Bluegrass State last year. Fabrizio has worked for nearly two dozen U.S. senators and over 50 members of Congress.
The public-opinion expert bluntly says the poll results show Trump can defeat Hillary Clinton in a general election and win the presidency for the Republicans.
He contends that Trump’s large lead among independents indicates the voter anger fueling Trump’s populist rise in the GOP primaries is spilling over into the electorate at large. If so, that would turn the 2016 election on its head and give the outsider Trump a built-in advantage.
“The voter anger is leaking over to the general, absolutely,” says Fabrizio. “Independents want somebody who is going to speak their mind just as much as Republicans do. Looking at responses that measure the frustration level people have with politics and politicians, there’s no question that independents, while maybe not as frustrated as Republicans, are far closer to Republicans on their level of frustration than democrats.”
Fabrizio perceives a host of other troublesome indicators for Clinton in a hypothetical match-up with Trump. Among them:
- The poll’s undecided voters prefer a Republican in a generic presidential ballot over a Democrat, by almost a 3-to-1 margin, 41 percent to 14.
- Undecided voters are much more likely to rate President Obama’s job performance negatively.
- Those expressing no preference between Clinton and Trump favor smaller, rather than bigger, government.
- A majority of undecided voters state they intend to vote for a Republican, rather than a Democrat, in their local congressional race.