Hillary Clinton’s lead against Donald Trump has narrowed to two points among likely voters, after the Republican candidate picked up a surge of support from independents in July, according to a new Monmouth University poll released Monday.
Forty-five percent of likely voters said they back Clinton in the latest survey, compared to 43 percent who said they support Trump. That is a shift from Monmouth University’s June poll, which found Clinton leading by seven points.
Some of the movement appears to be driven by independent voters, who now say they back Trump over Clinton by nine points. In June, Clinton and Trump were tied among the same group.
However, the poll found that Clinton continues to hold a seven-point lead over Trump among swing-state voters:
Clinton has the support of 88% of Democrats and Trump has the support of 81% of Republicans – both numbers are similar to the nominees’ partisan support levels last month. Independents now give Trump a 40% to 31% advantage, whereas they were more evenly split last month at 32% for Trump and 31% for Clinton. Clinton, however, has a 46% to 39% edge over Trump in the all-important swing states – the ten states in 2012 that were decided by less than seven points. This marks an insignificant change from her 41% to 36% lead in these states last month.
"Clinton still leads, but Trump is closing the margin. The next two weeks will be crucial to determining which direction this trend goes," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
According to the poll, Bernie Sanders’s endorsement of Clinton had little impact on voters’ decisions. Similarly, Donald Trump’s decision to name Mike Pence as his running mate also changed few opinions.
The majority of voters continue to view both presidential candidates negatively.