Breaking down the match-up between Clinton and Trump

Image: A combination image of Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
A combination image of Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Hannah Hartig, John Lapinski and Stephanie Psyllos

Hillary Clinton holds a 5-point lead over Donald Trump in a hypothetical match-up against the presumptive GOP nominee, but the overall results mask large differences in support across keys groups in the electorate.

As we start examining the 2016 general election, demographics will become increasingly important in determining who will win. The analyses below are based on results from the latest from the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll conducted online from May 2 through May 8 of 12,714 adults including 11,089 registered voters.

As Trump’s campaign switches focus to defeating the Democratic nominee in November, data from our latest poll show that he may also need to focus on improving his standing with a number of key voter groups. Clinton, who has dominated Sanders throughout the primary cycle among non-white voters, continues to do extremely well against Trump among these voters in a hypothetical head-to-head. She wins black voters 86 percent to 9 percent – a 77-point gap. Clinton also wins Hispanics 61 percent to 28 percent.

Trump wins the white vote 52 percent to 41 percent. The 11-point lead among whites compares favorably to the 2012 general election results for Republicans, when Romney beat Obama 59 percent to 39 percent in this demographic group.

There is also a significant gender gap this election cycle, with Clinton beating Trump by 19 points among women, while Trump carries men by an 11 percent margin. Women have typically been strong supporters of recent Democratic presidential candidates. In 2012, Obama beat Romney among women by 11 points, but data from our most latest Weekly Election Tracking Poll show that margin is even larger at this moment in the 2016 contest. Gender appears to be critical to this race, with Clinton and Trump putting the issue front and center in their campaign efforts.

Examining the electorate by education level and income are important as both are key predictors of whether someone will vote. Higher education levels, for example, are historically correlated with a higher probability of voting. Clinton beats Trump 51 percent to 41 percent among those with a college degree. Trump made headlines after winning the Nevada Republican caucus in February when he said he loved the “poorly educated.” Our results suggest they love him, too, as he wins those with a high school degree or less by 3 points—48 percent to 45 percent.

Among those with family incomes of less than $50,000 a year, Clinton does significantly better than Trump. Though there are many theories that Trump’s overwhelming popularity is due to support among low-income, working class voters, data from this week’s poll show that Clinton is the preferred candidate of low-income households overall by 19 points.

Voters with family incomes over $100,000 a year are split on their choice between the billionaire real-estate mogul and former secretary of state; 47 percent of high-earning voters support Clinton, while 48 percent support Trump.

Age has also been a particularly significant factor on the Democratic side in this year’s primary contests and will likely impact the outcome of the general election as well. Though Sanders has enjoyed unwavering support from younger voters during the primary season, voters under 45—regardless of party affiliation—favor Clinton to Trump by 18 points. Trump carries those 45 and older by 3 points– 48 percent to 45 percent.

In a general election, the key to winning is getting groups that traditionally support your party to turn out. However, the 2016 election is a bit more unpredictable than past elections, and it may turn out that Trump does better or worse with groups than a more traditional Republican candidate. We will follow how support among key groups changes across the next 6 months until November 8.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online May 2 through May 8, 2016 among a national sample of 12,714 adults aged 18 and over, including 11,089 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have an error estimate of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.