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Hillary Clinton extends lead in 3 key states, Marist poll says

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigns Aug. 8,

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigns Aug. 8, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Hillary Clinton has extended her lead in Ohio and two other states that might be crucial for Donald Trump’s chances for the White House, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Clinton made small gains in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa after the Democratic and Republican national conventions, according to the Marist College/NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. More important than increasing her leads a few points is the overall “direction” of the surveys, Marist pollster Lee Miringoff said.

Clinton, he said, successfully has “raised the issue of his temperament” and raised doubts about Trump. Further, Trump has been stung by several Republican senators and congressmen saying they’d support Clinton. Miringoff added that the shift is not about warm feeling for Clinton, saying: “It’s not like her negatives have declined.”

Before the conventions, Clinton and Trump were tied in Ohio, Marist found. Now, she’s ahead 43 percent to 38 percent in a head-to-head matchup. When other candidates are included, Clinton gets 39 percent, Trump 35, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson 12 and Green Party candidate Jill Stein 4.

In Iowa, Clinton leads Trump 41-37 in a head-to-head matchup — she was ahead by 3 before the conventions. In a four-way race, Clinton and Trump each get 35 percent, Johnson 12 and Stein 6.

Of the three states surveyed, Clinton enjoys her biggest lead in Pennsylvania — 11 points (48-37). That might be the most troubling for the Republican, Miringoff said.

“Pennsylvania really jumped out at us,” the pollster said. “The pathways for Trump to win are very narrow. Pennsylvania could be a problem.”

Trump needs to win a number of swing states to beat Clinton, analysts have said. The Super PAC, a political-action committee, backing him has said it will concentrate on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those states become even more important for the Republican as polls show Clinton ahead in Virginia and Nevada, Miringoff said.

The Marist poll also showed good news for Johnson. The former governor of New Mexico has broken into double-digit support in Ohio and Iowa (12 percent in each state) and improved in Pennsylvania (9 percent). The minor-party candidate needs to be receiving 15 percent in national polls to qualify for the first presidential debate, set for Sept. 26, at Hofstra University.

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