Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump: A Look at the Numbers

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now the presumptive presidential nominees of their parties.

By NEIL KING JR. – – – – – 

Now that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have each sewn up their party’s presidential nomination, let’s take a look at the numbers to see how they stack up against each other as the general election gets under way.

Who did best in the primaries?

Mr. Trump got a lot of attention for drawing new voters into the GOP primaries, but his total vote tally—13.3 million votes as of Tuesday—fell well below Mrs. Clinton’s 15.6 million votes. Then again, Mr. Trump faced far more challengers, thus diluting his vote count. Democratic runner-up Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, pulled in 12 million votes.

Which party did best overall?

The Republicans, if you tally the votes fetched by the four top candidates, pulled in a total of 28.5 million primary voters, compared with 27.7 million for the two Democratic contenders.

How does the head-to-head look compared to 2008?

In the RealClearPolitics running average of national polls, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Trump by 2 percentage points, 44% to 42%. Eight years ago, the race was similarly tight, with then-Sen. Barack Obama leading Sen. John McCain by just 3 points, 47% to 44%.

Who is the more popular candidate?

Both candidates have abysmal images at this point—far worse than any soon-to-be nominee in decades. Still, Mrs. Clinton has a slight edge on her rival. In the May Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, those holding a negative view of Mrs. Clinton exceeded those who held a positive view by 20 percentage points, compared to 29 points for Mr. Trump. In 2012, Mr. Obama was positive by eight points, while Mitt Romney was just slightly underwater.

What about the views of their own parties, and other groups?

Both candidates lag on all fronts compared to where the 2012 nominees stood at this point. Mrs. Clinton is off by 35 points compared to Mr. Obama in her image among Democrats, while Mr. Trump is off by 20 points in his standing among Republicans compared to Mr. Romney, according the the May WSJ/NBC News poll. Mr. Obama had a positive image, however slight, among men, women, whites, independents and older Americans at this point in the 2012 race. Mrs. Clinton, for her part, has a net-negative image among all those groups. Men alone see her more negatively than positively by 29 percentage points. The picture is similar for Mr. Trump, who is underwater by 19 points among men and by a whopping 38 points among women.

How do the parties themselves stand in voters’ eyes?

The Democrats are showing a distinct edge in terms of general preference among voters as well as overall image. Slightly more Americans now have a negative view of the Democratic Party than a positive view–by just 3 percentage points–according to the most recent WSJ/NBC News poll. But that underwater gap is far deeper for Republicans, at minus 25 percentage points. Meanwhile, 47% say they would prefer to see a Democrat win the presidential contest in November, compared with 43% who want a Republican to win. In June 2008, 51% preferred a Democrat to win, while 35% wanted to see a Republican win.

Who leads in the money race?

Mrs. Clinton at the end of last month had $42 million on hand, her campaign said. Mr. Trump hasn’t reported his May figures but had $2.4 million at the end of April. Mrs. Clinton also has a super PAC that has raised more than $76 million. Similar groups backing Mr. Trump are just getting under way and have raised around $3 million so far.

What about the standing of the current president?

The popularity of the incumbent president can act as a drag, or a tailwind, for candidates running in the same party. Based on Gallup polling, Mr. Obama’s approval rating now stands at 51%, exactly where President Ronald Reagan’s stood in early June of 1988, when Vice President George H.W. Bush went on to win the election in November. By comparison, President George W. Bush’s approval rating stood at 30% in early June of 2008.

 Are there any wildcards?

This has been a highly unpredictable election year, and could be even more so in the months ahead. One big factor: the potential disruption posed by third-party candidates. In a running average of polls, Mrs. Clinton continues to lead Mr. Trump, but that math changes when polls offer voters other choices. A running NBC News/SurveyMonkey tracking poll, for instance, found the Democrat takes the biggest hit when voters can pick any other candidate. Given that choice, Mr. Trump gets 39%, Mrs. Clinton 36% and all other candidates bring in 22%.

So what are the handicappers saying?

Predicting election outcomes at this point–with all the variables ahead–can be a loser’s game. But prediction markets at the moment tilt heavily toward Mrs. Clinton winning in November. One site, PredictWise, which amalgamates a wide array of data–from betting sides to polling averages–now gives a 73% likelihood to the Democratic candidate prevailing in the fall.

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