- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2016

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leads Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points in a hypothetical general election matchup, according to a new poll.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday shows Mr. Trump with 46 percent support among registered voters, compared to Mrs. Clinton’s 44 percent support, which falls within the survey’s 3.5-point margin of error.

The narrow lead for Mr. Trump is a dramatic turnaround from the poll’s last iteration in March, which, prior to Mr. Trump locking up the Republican nominating contest, found Mrs. Clinton besting the businessman by 9 percentage points.

The latest poll finds that both candidates are exceedingly unpopular, with Mr. Trump posting a minus-16 favorability rating and Mrs. Clinton a minus-17 score. Nearly six in ten voters view both candidates unfavorably.

Supporters of Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton generally see their preferred candidate as the lesser of two evils, the poll finds.

Among Mrs. Clinton’s backers, 48 percent said they were in favor of her candidacy, while an identical percentage said they were mainly in opposition to Mr. Trump. Among Mr. Trump’s backers, 44 percent said they support the businessman’s candidacy, while 53 percent said they were trying to prevent Mrs. Clinton from taking the White House.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they want a third-party candidate to mount a serious run for the White House. The poll finds that, if 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney enters the race, Mrs. Clinton would lead with 37 percent support, followed by Mr. Trump’s 35 percent and Mr. Romney’s 22 percent.

Despite a concerted intraparty effort to stop Mr. Trump’s candidacy, he still wins 85 percent of Republicans in the poll, and cedes only 8 percent to Mrs. Clinton, whereas Mrs. Clinton takes 86 percent of Democratic voters but 11 percent cross over to Mr. Trump.

The poll also indicates that Mrs. Clinton’s primary rival, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, may fare better in a head-to-head matchup against Mr. Trump. The senator posts an 8-percentage-point net favorable rating among registered voters, and Mrs. Clinton trails Mr. Trump by 13 points among independents, who are generally supportive of Mr. Sanders.

The poll surveyed 1,005 adults by telephone from May 16-19.

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