20 May 2016 00:00 Ryan Rifai
Polls show that the largest block of American voters prefer the trailing Democratic candidate to Hillary Clinton.
Recent polls have demonstrated that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders holds a much higher potential to defeat Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, in an election than Hillary Clinton, although the latter is the Democratic Party’s front-runner.
The Reuters news agency and RealClearPolitics, a non-partisan United States polling data aggregator, are among the organisations that have released ratings indicating that Sanders would have the upper hand in the battle for the White House over Clinton.
Clinton has so far won 1 716 delegates and Sanders has 1 433. Counting the super-delegates, Clinton has 2 240 and Sanders has 1 473. But super-delegates can still switch allegiance until the July 25 Democratic convention is held.
However, RealClearPolitics showed on Tuesday that Sanders had a 13% advantage over Trump, while Clinton had five more points than Trump.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday signalled a tight coin-toss race between Clinton and Trump, without reporting on Sanders.
In March, a Reuters poll said that Sanders would beat Trump by at least 14%, while reporting a very close race between Trump and Clinton.
Dustin Woodard, an analytics expert who took a major part in the development of the Reuters poll, said that a significant reason for Sanders’s advantage was a result of disproportional support from independent voters, a group that he said other polls failed to factor in.
“Independents are the largest voting population in the US. Gallup reports that independents are 42% of the voting population, while Democrats are only 29% and Republicans are only 26%.” Sanders and Trump have been the favourites of independent voters, he noted, adding how their voice changed the outcome of polls.
“When I look at other head-to-head polling sources, the 10 most recent polls show Clinton only beats Trump in eight of them and her margin of win averages 4.6%, but most, if not all, of the polls do not have their independent numbers correct.”
“This would suggest Clinton versus Trump is a really tight battle, possibly in Trump’s favour. However, on Bernie Sanders’s side, he beats Trump in every single poll and by an average margin of 14.1%. Again, if independents were adjusted, his margin might be even larger.”
Gary Nordlinger, a political researcher at George Washington University, said a recent poll by his university showed that Trump leads Clinton among independents by 5%.
The poll, released earlier this month, also noted that Clinton had a high “unfavorable” rating standing at 46%. Nordingler explained that this was largely because many perceive her to be part of the “political elite”.
On the other hand, “Sanders entered the race without much national recognition, hence he had low unfavourable ratings”.
“Sanders has also not yet been subjected to negative TV ads that would drive up his unfavourable rating.”
Nordlinger added that Sanders had performed best in “open” state primaries, which independent voters are allowed to take part in. — Al Jazeera