Clin­ton ap­pears on cusp of com­mand­ing vic­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Julie Pace and Emily Swan­son

NEW YORK >> Hil­lary Clin­ton ap­pears on the cusp of a po­ten­tially com­mand­ing vic­tory over Don­ald Trump, fu­eled by solid Demo­cratic turnout in early vot­ing, mas­sive op­er­a­tional ad­van­tages and in­creas­ing en­thu­si­asm among her sup­port­ers.

A new As­so­ci­ated Press-GfK poll re­leased Wed­nes­day finds the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee has grabbed sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages over her Repub­li­can ri­val with just 12 days left be­fore Elec­tion Day. Among them: con­sol­i­dat­ing the sup­port of her party and even win­ning some Repub­li­cans.

“I’m go­ing to pick Hil­lary at the top and pick Repub­li­can straight down the line,” said poll re­spon­dent Wil­liam Gold­stein, a 71-year-old from Long Is­land, New York, who voted for Mitt Rom­ney in 2012. “I can’t vote for Trump.”

Over­all, the poll shows Clin­ton lead­ing Trump nationally by a stag­ger­ing 14 per­cent­age points among likely vot­ers, 51-37. While that is one of her largest mar­gins among re­cent na­tional sur­veys, most show the for­mer sec­re­tary of state with a sub­stan­tial na­tional lead over the billionaire busi­ness­man.

The AP-GfK poll finds that Clin­ton has se­cured the sup­port of 90 per­cent of likely Demo­cratic vot­ers, and also has the back­ing of 15 per­cent of more mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans. Just 79 per­cent of all Repub­li­cans sur­veyed say they are vot­ing for their party’s nom­i­nee.

With vot­ing al­ready un­der­way in 37 states, Trump’s op­por­tu­ni­ties to over­take Clin­ton are quickly evap­o­rat­ing — and vot­ers ap­pear to know it. The AP-GfK poll found that 74 per­cent of likely vot­ers be­lieve Clin­ton will win, up from 63 per­cent in Septem­ber.

Trou­bles with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law have given Trump a late open­ing. But even Repub­li­cans ques­tion whether the ris­ing cost of in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums is enough to over­come the dam­age the busi­ness­man has done to his stand­ing with women and mi­nori­ties.

“Don­ald Trump has spent his en­tire cam­paign run­ning against the groups he needs to ex­pand his coali­tion,” said Whit Ayres, a Repub­li­can poll­ster who ad­vised Florida Sen. Marco Ru­bio’s failed pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Ayres called Trump’s cam­paign “strate­gi­cally mind­less.”

Even if Clin­ton’s sup­port plum­mets in the con­test’s clos­ing days, or she’s un­able to mo­ti­vate strong turnout in her fa­vor, it’s not clear that Trump could mar­shal the re­sources to take ad­van­tage and col­lect enough states to win the 270 elec­toral votes needed to claim the White House.

Clin­ton’s team has over­whelmed Trump’s cam­paign in its ef­fort to turn out vot­ers.

An As­so­ci­ated Press re­view of cam­paign fi­nance fil­ings finds that her cam­paign, the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and Demo­cratic par­ties in 12 states have more than three times as many paid em­ploy­ees as Trump’s cam­paign and the main Repub­li­can or­ga­ni­za­tions sup­port­ing him.

The strength of the Demo­cratic turnout ef­fort ap­pears to be pay­ing div­i­dends in states where vot­ing is un­der­way.

In North Carolina, a must-win state for Trump, Democrats lead Repub­li­cans in early bal­lots, 47 per­cent to 29 per­cent. The Democrats hold an ad­van­tage even though turnout among blacks, a cru­cial vot­ing bloc for Clin­ton in the state, is down com­pared to this point in 2012.

In Florida, a peren­nial bat­tle­ground, Democrats have drawn even with Repub­li­cans in votes cast. Clin­ton also ap­pears to hold an edge in Ne­vada and Colorado based on early re­turns. David Fla­herty, a Repub­li­can poll­ster based in Colorado, said the data sig­nal “a Demo­crat wave in the making.”

Buoyed by sup­port from white vot­ers, Trump looks strong in Ohio, Iowa and Ge­or­gia, a Repub­li­can state where Clin­ton is try­ing to make in­roads. But wins in those states would still leave him well short of the re­quired 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

Trump’s ad­vis­ers point to his large ral­lies and en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers as an in­di­ca­tion he could be poised for an up­set. Clin­ton draws smaller crowds to her events and has been per­ceived by some vot­ers the lesser of two evils.

Al­though vot­ers are still more likely to have an un­fa­vor­able than a fa­vor­able view of Clin­ton, her rat­ings have im­proved slightly in the past month. Fortysix per­cent of likely vot­ers now say they have a fa­vor­able view of the for­mer sec­re­tary of state, up from 42 per­cent in Septem­ber. Just 34 per­cent have a fa­vor­able view of Trump.

Trump’s un­pop­u­lar­ity has opened sur­pris­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Clin­ton as the White House race bar­rels to­ward its fin­ish. Her cam­paign is ac­tively com­pet­ing for Ari­zona, a state that has voted for the Demo­crat in only one pres­i­den­tial race since 1952, and she is also spend­ing money in Ge­or­gia, a re­li­ably Repub­li­can state over the past two decades.

AN­DREW HARNIK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks at a rally at Palm Beach State Col­lege in Lake Worth, Fla., Wed­nes­day. Clin­ton ap­pears on the cusp of a po­ten­tially com­mand­ing vic­tory. Amid solid Demo­cratic turnout in early vot­ing, a new AP-GfK poll finds her with a set of de­ci­sive ad­van­tages over Don­ald Trump, in­clud­ing growing en­thu­si­asm for her cam­paign and a dark mood to­wards his.

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