CBS: Clinton’s Historic Unfavorability Introducing Uncertainty Into Race

CBS News elections director Anthony Salvanto broke down new battleground state polls Sunday showing the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is up in the air because of Clinton's historically high unfavorability ratings and persistent issues with trust.

A new CBS News/YouGov poll of 13 battleground states showed Clinton, who reached a new high of 56 percent unfavorability this week, leading by just two points:

Yet a survey across 13 battleground states suggests the race may still be up for grabs. Among likely voters Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by only two points, 42% to 40%. 7% go for Gary Johnson and again 2% for Jill Stein. The states included in the poll are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Following the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by 43% to 41% among a smaller list of 11 states (not including Arizona and Georgia)

"You look at her numbers underneath that lead, and she's got historically high unfavorable ratings," Salvanto said on Face The Nation. "That hasn't changed either, so some things that haven't changed aren't good news for her. We haven't seen that in polling from a frontrunner before, and what it does is it introduces a little bit of uncertainty still in this race, because then voters say that they feel like they're settling … They've picked a frontrunner, but they're settling for a choice, rather than making an affirmative choice, and that leaves things, I think, still a little bit up in the air."

According to the poll, 24 percent of battleground state likely voters feel they're "settling" for Trump or Clinton.

Salvanto said Clinton's email scandal, which heated up again this week with the release of the FBI report showing more of her excuses being refuted, contributed to the persistent mistrust voters have toward her. Forty-six percent of likely battleground state voters in the poll said Clinton's answers were getting less believable over time, compared to seven percent who said more believable.

"People say in this poll that they feel like her answers to that are getting less believable over time, not more so," he said. "It seems like the email server is just reminding people of what they don't like about politics as usual, and then you see that it bleeds into some of her other numbers, where people say like they feel like she is running on behalf of big donors rather than trying to help them or help the country, and even more so, that she's running just because she wants to help herself rather than them."

Full exchange:

JOHN DICKERSON: Let's walk through this slowly. 13 states. We're going to be obsessed with them on Election Night. They are where the race is taking place. Give us a sense of where things now stand in those 13 battleground states.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: So Clinton is still leading, and in that sense, the race is essentially unchanged. She's still leading among the same demographic groups that she's been winning. But, you look at her numbers underneath that lead, and she's got historically high unfavorable ratings. That hasn't changed either, so some things that haven't changed aren't good news for her. We haven't seen that in polling from a frontrunner before, and what it does is it introduces a little bit of uncertainty still in this race, because then voters say that they feel like they're settling, like they don't really like either choice. They've picked a frontrunner, but they're settling for a choice, rather than making an affirmative choice, and that leaves things, I think, still a little bit up in the air.

DICKERSON: So this is not an act of joy. They're just kind of—it's a bit more grudging. So let's just recapitulate, maybe for people who haven't been paying attention, what the fragility is of Hillary Clinton's lead. What is it underneath that's weak about her?

SALVANTO: She still has persistent issues on trust, on telling the truth, and some of it stems from the email server. People say in this poll that they feel like her answers to that are getting less believable over time, not more so. But to really understand this from public opinion, John, I think you have to lather that up to the bigger picture. In polling, people consistently say like they feel in America today that there are two sets of rules. One for them and one for people who have special advantages, and it seems like the email server is just reminding people of what they don't like, of what they don't like about politics as usual, and then you see that it bleeds into some of her other numbers, where people say like they feel like she is running on behalf of big donors rather than trying to help them or help the country, and even more so, that she's running just because she wants to help herself rather than them, and that's where it spreads out and makes her numbers weaker.

DICKERSON: Right, spreads out to a bigger issue than just about specific emails.