It’s early, but a potential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, two of the least popular presidential candidates in recent memory, could be closer than people think.


A May 10 Quinnipiac University swing state poll showed that Clinton and Trump were closer than many expected in those states. In Florida, Clinton held a 1 percent lead over Trump (43-42), Trump led Clinton in Ohio 43-39 and in Pennsylvania, Clinton led Trump 43-42.

When the poll was first released, it was criticized for being an outlier, but it eventually became a forerunner to other polls around the country.

“Our polls have been accurate,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said when speaking to the AmNews. “We showed a close race. People called us lousy after the poll came out, but we were accurate.”

“You don’t know,” said Carroll. “You can’t measure that, but my guess is that it plays quite a bit. Eventually, Sanders will get out of there. He’s not gonna get nominated. Eventually he’ll be out of the race. Until he goes out, that is a factor.”

Another person who believed that a presidential race between Trump and Clinton would be closer than people think is veteran campaign consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He told the AmNews that he was on the bandwagon early of this race being a tight one from the start.

“I said it a month ago, that it’s gonna be a close race and people thought I was wacky,” said Sheinkopf. “Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, Pennsylvania … they’re gonna be states that Trump will bring into play like New Jersey. White, blue collar workers are watching their jobs being automated and don’t know what to do about it.”

It’s early in the race and new scandals and controversies might surface between now and Election Day. The six months between now and the night a new president’s elected are several lifetimes in campaign years. Back in 2008, a CNN exit poll showed that half of Hillary Clinton’s supporters in Indiana wouldn’t vote for Obama in a race with John McCain, with a third of Clinton’s voters supporting McCain if Clinton didn’t get the nomination.

Obama won Indiana by more than 26,000 votes.

But the dislike of Clinton wasn’t always this way. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, when Clinton left her post as secretary of state under President Barack Obama in 2013, her approval rating was 66 percent. That number made her more popular than Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the time.

Carroll had an explanation for the AmNews about the dramatic change in perception of Clinton.

“When you run, a lot of people start shooting at you,” said Carroll. “When someone beloved becomes a candidate, their numbers go down.”

New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright agreed.

“With Hillary having a 30-year track record, if not more, not everybody is going to like her,” said Wright to the AmNews. “But I do believe that everybody will say that she’s capable of being president of the United States. Trump is an unknown quality. When you’re an unknown quality, it goes in your favor in the likeability factor. We don’t know what he’s going to do or what kind of president he will be. I think Hillary has a leg up.”

Clinton’s camp has released several ads targeting Trump for his comments on women. They’ve used social media to respond to comments he made about the housing crash being good for him and his money. Despite all of this, nothing has stuck to him.

“Clinton expected that this will be easier and played by the normal rules,” said Sheinkopf. “The Trump operation is different than anything that has happened in a long time.”

When the AmNews asked Carroll if some of the unfavorable rating had anything to do with Clinton’s gender, he said, “Oh yeah, sure. Is there some element in politics? Sure there is. You’re a Black newspaper. You know how Black candidates get punished to an extent. There are also people who are anti-woman. I don’t know how important it is (to the polls and the election), but it exists.”

Despite the current issues for Clinton, Wright believes that most Democrats will eventually close ranks after the convention. He believes the same for Republicans and Trump.

“Democrats do usually come home,” said Wright. “I think Democrats are definitely united in that they do not want Donald Trump … but I do think the battle between Bernie and Hillary has something to do with the current polls (between Clinton and Trump).”

Sheinkopf told the AmNews that the bigger issue for Clinton is maintaining the “Obama coalition,” the group of young people who came out in droves to vote for Obama in 2008. He said that maintaining that group will prove difficult for Clinton.

“Barack Obama is the most successful vote getter in American history,” said Sheinkopf. “These coalitions only exist for the candidate they voted for. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are two sides of a similar coin. They both represent disaffected, angry people who feel shortchanged and who feel their futures are limited. If Bernie disappears, I think some of those votes will go to Trump. Outside of Obama, young people generally don’t turn out (on Election Day).

“The majority of the Latino vote is located in places that will vote Democrat anyway except for Texas,” Sheinkopf continued. “With women, the gambit here is that the economic arguments and Trumps comments about women will bring a large gender turnout, but the suburbs will play a bigger role there than the cities.”

Sheinkopf said that the goal of Trump’s team is to reduce voter turnout as much as possible.

“A non-vote is a vote for Trump,” he declared.