Trump, Clinton tied in battleground Florida, poll shows

A group of supporters display a banner for candidate Donald Trump outside the University of Miami before a Republican presidential debate March 10.
A group of supporters display a banner for candidate Donald Trump outside the University of Miami before a Republican presidential debate March 10. pportal@miamiherald.com

The nation’s largest swing state could once again prove to be a decisive battleground between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, according to a new statewide poll that shows the likely presidential rivals essentially tied in Florida.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found support for Clinton and Trump at 43-42 percent, with a “massive” gender gap between women, who back Clinton, and men, who back Trump. Women favor Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, over Trump, 48-35 percent, while men prefer Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, 49-36 percent.

READ MORE: Clinton trounces Trump in Miami-Dade, poll shows

Florida’s large Hispanic population could pose problems for Trump, but Clinton’s got her own problems with the state’s white men, according to Peter A. Brown, the poll’s assistant director.

“Republicans’ weakness among minority voters is well known,” he said. “But the reason this race is so close overall is Clinton’s historic weakness among white men. In Florida, she is getting just 25 percent from white men.”

The reason this race is so close overall is Clinton’s historic weakness among white men.

Peter A. Brown of the Quinnipiac University poll

Quinnipiac found the same 43-42 percent Clinton-Trump split in Pennsylvania, and a 39-43 percent Trump edge in Ohio. The university surveyed voters in all three swing states because no candidate since 1960 has won the presidency without winning at least two of the three states.

Though Clinton has virtually assured her nomination, rival and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fares better than she does against Trump in all three states, according to Quinnipiac. He leads 44-42 percent in Florida, 47-41 percent in Pennsylvania and 43-41 percent in Ohio.

The poll, conducted April 27-May 8, has an error margin of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

It’s still early in the campaign, and much could change — including pollsters’ projections of what the November electorate might look like. For example, Trump drew infrequent voters to the polls in primaries like Florida’s.

In May 2012, a Quinnipiac survey showed Republican Mitt Romney leading Democratic President Barack Obama by 4 percentage points. Obama ended up winning Florida by just under 1 point.

In the latest Quinnipiac poll of Florida, independent voters registered without party affiliation — who usually decide elections — are split 39-39 percent, according to the poll.

Both Trump, a part-time Palm Beach County resident, and Clinton, who has a broad South Florida network of friends and political donors, share a dubious distinction: Neither is well-liked. Both are viewed positively by 37 percent of respondents and negatively by 57 percent.

Clinton leads among non-white voters, 63-20 percent, compared to white voters, who prefer Trump 52-33 percent. There’s also a generational divide, with young voters ages 18-34 favoring Clinton 49-27 percent, and voters older than 65 sticking with Trump 50-37 percent.

Recent polls in liberal-leaning Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county, show Clinton with a wide advantage over Trump. That’s thanks to Democratic, Hispanic and African-American voters supporting her — and to conservative Cuban Americans harboring doubts about Trump as president. Miami-Dade was the only county Trump lost in the Republican primary, to hometown favorite Marco Rubio.

Quinnipiac found a majority of Floridians — 57 percent — say immigrants in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, compared to 11 percent who say they can stay but not apply for citizenship and 25 percent who say they should have to leave the U.S.

Florida voters are split, 48-48 percent, on whether the U.S. should build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump has proposed. Again, there’s a gender and ethnic divide: Men back it 54-44 percent, while women oppose it 52-43 percent; white voters favor it 55-41 percent, while non-white voters oppose it 65-31 percent.

Clinton bests Trump on questions about which candidate is more intelligent (by 52-38 percent), has higher moral standards (46-41 percent) and the temperament to handle an international crisis (54-44 percent). Trump edges Clinton on who would do a better job of handling the economy (54-40 percent) and terrorism (49-43 percent).

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