Clinton, Trump in virtual dead heat on eve of first debate

Last Updated 25 September 2016, 06:20 IST

The White House race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump has narrowed to a virtual dead heat, according to a latest poll ahead of the first presidential debate tomorrow.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll stated that the two leaders, ahead of the first presidential debate, are locked in a neck-and-neck battle with just over a month to go for the elections.

Forty-six per cent of the likely voters are supporting Clinton while 44 per cent backing Trump, the Washington Post said, adding that among registered voters, they are tied at 41 per cent.

The poll said 68-year-old former secretary of state's August advantage erased after recent difficulties and her 70-year-old Republican rival is still facing doubts about his qualifications and temperament.

In a two-way matchup, Clinton tops Trump by 49 per cent to 47 per cent among likely voters, and the two are tied at 46 per cent among all registered voters, the report said.

Clinton's two-point edge among likely voters, in both the four-way and two-way ballot tests, is within the survey's 4.5 percentage-point margin of sampling error, it said.

The findings of the poll show how much the presidential contest has tightened in recent weeks. In early September, Clinton led Trump by five points among likely voters and in early August, she led by eight points.

As Clinton has run into some turbulence, Trump has worked to present himself as a more disciplined candidate in an effort to attract more support from voters who traditionally have supported Republican nominees, the poll said.

Much will be at stake tomorrow night at Hofstra University when Clinton and Trump meet at 9 PM (local time) in what is said to be one of the largest television audiences ever for a presidential debate.

A vast 74 per cent of Americans, eight in 10 voters, plan to watch the debate.Forty-four per cent expect Clinton to win while 34 per cent expecting Trump to lead.

The poll said that expectations for Clinton are lower than they were for President Barack Obama against Republican Mitt Romney ahead of the 2012 debates, when 56 per cent thought Obama would prevail against 29 per cent for Romney.

17 per cent of the registered voters said that the debate could change their minds.

Most Americans said they are following the campaign diligently, but a higher percentage of Trump supporters appear to be paying close attention than Clinton backers.

Several Clinton backers said they are not registered to vote, adding pressure on her Campaign to get them registered.

(Published 25 September 2016, 06:20 IST)

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