UMass Poll shows Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton lead respective parties

By Morgan Hughes

Gage Skidmore/Flickr
(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A recent nationwide survey of likely Republican and Democratic voters conducted by the University of Massachusetts’ political science department shows that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lead their respective parties.

UMass Poll, an internet-based polling program run by the political science department, tallied the answers of 1,224 respondents regarding their likely choice in the respective primaries. “Likely voters” are considered respondents who were either matched to a registered voter profile or who said that they would “definitely or probably vote in their state’s presidential primary or caucus,” according to an article released by Jared Sharpe from UMass Poll.

The results indicated that Trump and Ben Carson are neck-and-neck for the GOP nomination while Clinton holds a commanding lead among likely Democratic voters. The results of the poll, which surveyed national voters and not UMass students, were unsettling but not surprising to students on campus.

Thirty-one percent of likely Republican primary voters selected Trump as their first choice candidate. Ben Carson came in second at 22 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 13 percent and Marco Rubio at nine percent. No other candidates gathered more than five percent of the vote. The margin of error was about six percent.

The results indicated that 63 percent of likely Democratic voters favored Hilary Clinton in the primaries compared to 29 percent for Bernie Sanders. Of the 381 Democrats polled, 78 percent said Clinton had the best chance of winning in a general election.

Trump and Carson appear to have a hold on the Republican Party; Carson was the second choice for 36 percent of Trump supporters, while 30 percent of Carson supporters indicated Trump as their second option.

“Trump appears to have flat-lined… He needs to knock out Carson and Cruz to move forward,” UMass Poll associate director Raymond La Raja said in a press release.

Forty percent of likely Republican voters said Trump had the best chance of winning the general election. However, he also faces considerable opposition. Respondents were asked which candidates they would and would not vote for in general. One-third indicated that they would not support Trump whatsoever.

Jeb Bush has attracted the most opposition. La Raja said that, “More than half of registered primary voters said they would not be willing to vote for him under any scenario.”

Sophomore Fitz Pucci, a Democrat, said he was “not surprised” by the results because both Trump and Carson are appealing to the majority of Republicans.

“On one side you have Donald Trump, who is a militaristic-like businessman who is content with his own ideas and somehow unabashedly unapologetic,” Pucci said.

“Carson is popular right now because of the fact that he has been brought up in to the presidential spotlight without any of the ‘corruption’ that the many people believe the political system instills in other people as they become career politicians like Hillary Clinton.”

Pucci added there is “no room for an Islamophobe like Trump or Carson” in light of the current global affairs.

Freshman Samuel Cuoco, a registered independent who leans toward the Republican Party, said that he was “not too surprised with the amount of votes for Trump…because he is so bold and confident, and represents our (college students’) views.”

Regarding Sanders’ lack of support, Cuoco was also not surprised that Clinton has a majority of likely votes because of her experience, though he thought Sanders’ “common man” approach would help him if that representation of him was truthful.

Freshman Leah Rosenfield, a registered independent leaning Democrat, is “embarrassed” that Trump and Carson lead the polls.

“If you look at the United States from any other country, it’s ridiculous that a television celebrity is being taken seriously and would represent the United States in global affairs,” Rosenfield said.

She added she’s not impressed by Trump’s businessman approach.

“It gives him a better understanding of the American economy, but the economy alone is not the primary focus of a president, especially right now with the Syrian refugee crisis.”

Rosenfield also believe that Sanders may be unfairly represented in polls.

“He has plenty of support, but maybe the reason his polls are not as high is because younger people (are his supporters) and they don’t vote and people don’t realize that they make the difference,” Rosenfield said.

Donald Trump tweeted “Great poll numbers out of @UMassAmherst. Thank you! #Trump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain” on Monday.

Morgan Hughes can be reached at [email protected]