Initial reactions: 9 in 10 Trump voters in OH and PA unfazed by tape revelations

William JordanUS Elections Editor
October 09, 2016, 12:28 AM GMT+0

The latest wave of the YouGov/CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker polled likely voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

In a new wave of the YouGov/CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker Democrat Hillary Clinton leads her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The surveys were conducted before the release, Friday, of tapes showing Donald Trump speak in lewd terms about groping women. But a follow-up survey that recontacted the same voters from Friday to Saturday in Pennsylvania and Ohio reveals the vast majority of those who said they would vote for Trump earlier in the week are unmoved about by tapes so far. In both states, only 8% of Trump’s supporters who have heard about the tape say the revelations have made them think worse of the candidate, while 2% say they now think better of Trump. The remaining Trump voters (91% in Ohio and 90% in Pennsylvania) say the tapes have had no impact on their view of Trump.

However, it is too soon to determine the full impact of the tapes. Less than half of the Republican nominee’s own supporters have yet seen the tape, and around one in five reported not having heard anything about it. There is other evidence of how damaging the controversy could be as Trump tries to build a winning coalition: among those in Ohio and Pennsylvania who are undecided or supporting third-party candidates, less than 1% think better of Trump after the tapes and 48% think worse. One in five Republicans and two in five independents think less of Trump over the controversy.

But the real problem for Trump is that – even before the release of the tape – he already trailed in both states and Wisconsin.

In Pennsylvania, Clinton leads Trump by eight points, 48% to 40%. Both candidates have gained since September, when Clinton led by the same margin, but garnered only 45% to Trump’s 37%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson fell from 6% to 4% while the share of voters still undecided also fell.

In Ohio, Clinton leads Trump 46% to 42%, but Trump has gained some support since last month, when he trailed by seven points and was at 39%. Even so, the state is a must-win for Donald Trump, while Clinton can likely do without the state’s 18 electoral college votes. Ohio is another state where third-party support also seems to be fading: Gary Johnson is down two points to 5% compared to last month.

In Wisconsin, it’s a tighter race, with Clinton holding only a four-point lead over Trump, 43% to 39%. Nine in ten likely voters in Wisconsin are white, and they split 41% to 40% for Trump.

If Trump were to lose the support of the 8% of his voters who say the tapes worsened their opinion of the candidate, his support would fall back to 39% in Ohio and down to 37% in Pennsylvania.

Further erosion in GOP enthusiasm for the top of the ticket might also imperil the incumbent Republican senators defending their seats in these same states. In Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey was tied at 42% with his Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty. In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson already trailed former Sen. Russ Feingold, the Democrat, by three points, 43% to 45%. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is in a much stronger position. He leads his Democratic challenger, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, by 11 points, 49% to 38%.

Interviews were conducted October 5-7, 2016 for the CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker. For the follow-up survey, the same respondents were recontacted from October 7-8. These findings were weighted to match the demographic and voting profile from the previous survey to correct for differential non-response. A detailed description of the methodology used to carry out the surveys can be found here.

See additional questions and demographic breakdowns for Ohio (and recontact), Pennsylvania (and recontact) and Wisconsin.