BOSTON (CBS) – As we head into Monday night’s first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a new WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll of 700 likely Massachusetts voters has good news – and bad news – for Clinton.
The good news – in a state that hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election in 32 years, she’s leading by double-digits among likely voters.
The bad news – her 13-point margin in our poll is surprisingly weak given the state’s deep-blue status and past voting history.
Barack Obama carried Massachusetts by a 23-point margin in 2012, and a 25-point spread in 2008. Clinton’s husband Bill won here in 1996 by 33-percent.
What’s weighing Clinton down?
It’s the same story as elsewhere across the country.
Her favorability ratings are way underwater, with 41-percent saying they’re very or somewhat favorable toward her, while 56-percent are very or somewhat unfavorable. It’s even worse for Trump, with a 31-66 percent split. But the most telling comparison is with President Obama, seen very or somewhat favorably by 51-percent of likely Massachusetts voters, unfavorably by 46-percent.
“It’s shocking, just shocking,” says WBZ-UMass Poll Associate Director Tatishe Nteta.
“The expectation was that she would destroy Trump in Massachusetts, but the fact that he is within shouting distance indicates that she has a real problem here.”
And no surprise, the key driver of her unfavorability is negative views of her honesty and trustworthiness. When respondents were asked what word they would use to describe Clinton, the big winners were “liar,” “untrustworthy,” “criminal” and “corrupt.” But at least a few positives show up prominently for her, including “experienced,” “strong” and “smart.”
For Trump, the results are dismal: “liar,” “dangerous,” “idiot” and “racist” top the list.
The numbers and history suggest Clinton will cruise to a decisive win here on Election Day, but if the margin is as relatively narrow as the WBZ-UMass Amherst poll suggests, she can, ironically enough, thank the men of Massachusetts. She enjoys a 20-point lead among women (51-31%), but it’s her narrow (39-35%) lead among men that makes the difference.