Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump leads Democrat Hillary Clinton head-to-head, according to a new poll released Friday.Here's why I don't believe this.
The poll by SurveyUSA finds that matched up directly, Trump garners 45 percent to Clinton’s 40 percent.
In other head-to-head matchups, Trump beats out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 44 percent to 40 percent; Vice President Joe Biden by 44 percent to 42 percent; and former Vice President Al Gore by 44 percent to 41 percent.
If you go to the poll, you see a lot of numbers that strain credulity. It isn't just that Trump gets 31% of the Hispanic vote against Clinton (and similar numbers against Sanders, Biden, and Gore). It's that Trump gets between 21% and 26% of black voters against the Democrats. (Including midterm elections, Republicans haven't won more than 11% of the black vote since 1996, though they did win 10% in the low-turnout 2014 midterms.)
The poll also says that Trump would get 14% of "strong Democrats" in a race with Clinton -- and the same percentage against Sanders and Biden. He'd get 16% against Gore. And he'd get 17% of "very liberal" voters against Gore, Biden, and -- yes -- even Sanders, while his number versus Clinton would be 18%.
I do believe that Trump is no longer the most beatable candidate in the Republican race. If you look at the Real Clear Politics general-election matchups against Clinton, it's clear that Trump has caught up with (or surpassed) the other Republicans in electability. Clinton still beats all of them, but the margins, for the most part, are narrowing.
SurveyUSA says that Trump beats Clinton in part because of a massive gender gap (20 points). That would seem to jibe with the recent surge in approval of Trump among Republicans -- Gallup says Trump's improved numbers since mid-July are entirely the result of greater popularity among Republican men. I wouldn't be surprised if some Democratic men are also feeling hormonal surges as they watch Trump.
I very much believe that Trump could win a general election in this country at this time. I think Democrats are much more vulnerable than many people believe, and I think Hillary Clinton is quite vulnerable. But I don't believe this poll.