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Clinton Opens 23-Point Lead Among Women as Trump Struggles

Hillary Clinton has advanced among women and consolidated support within her party since her nominating convention, while a difficult few weeks have left Donald Trump still struggling on basic ratings from his temperament to his qualifications for office. She leads him by 8 points in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Trump's ratings in general haven't worsened –- they just haven't improved since he claimed the Republican nomination. And the trouble list is long: Seventy-nine percent of Americans say he doesn’t show enough respect for people he disagrees with, 70 percent express anxiety about a Trump presidency, 67 percent think he lacks the personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively, 64 percent doubt his understanding of world affairs, 63 percent see him unfavorably overall, 62 percent say he's not honest and trustworthy, 61 percent think he's unqualified for office and 60 percent think he's biased against women and minorities.

See PDF with full results here.

On his handling of his dispute with the Khans, parents of a fallen Muslim-American captain in the U.S. Army: Seventy-three percent disapprove, including 59 percent of Republicans.

Clinton has her own challenges in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates –- 66 percent say she's too willing to bend the rules, though this has eased by 6 points from last month. She only runs evenly with Trump in trust to handle two key issues, the economy and terrorism. And she remains vastly unpopular in some groups, notably among white men who don't have a college degree, an economically struggling group.

All told, Clinton leads Trump by 50-42 percent among registered voters, regaining a statistically significant lead after a closer 4-point race in mid-July. It's quite similar among likely voters, 51-44 percent. It's also similar in a four-way race including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein -– 45-37-8-4 percent among registered voters, still Clinton +8.

There have been ups and downs in the race to date –- ranging from +2 for Trump in May to +12 for Clinton in late June -– and more certainly are possible. That said, if 40 percent can be thought of as the base vote in either party, Clinton has been ahead more consistently than Trump. The race between them has averaged 48-43 percent in ABC/Post polls. She's ranged from 44 to 51 percent support, while he's seen 39 to 46 percent.

Groups

Clinton has improved notably since mid-July among college-educated white women, a critical group in this election; she now leads Trump by 19 points among them, 57-38 percent, after roughly an even split last month. Largely because of that shift, Clinton now holds a wide 58-35 percent lead among women overall (her highest support among women to date), while Trump is +10 among men. And, again given college-educated women, she leads Trump by 6 points among college-educated whites overall, a group Democrats never have won in exit polls dating to 1976.

Clinton has also advanced sharply among white Catholics, another potential swing voter group, and holds her customary huge lead among nonwhites.

Clinton is now supported by 86 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who preferred Bernie Sanders for the nomination. Trump has done less well in consolidating his base; he's backed by 74 percent of leaned Republicans who favored someone else for their party's nomination. Similarly, Clinton's backed by 92 percent of mainline Democrats, while Trump does less well, 83 percent, among mainline Republicans.

Things could be worse for Trump, given his difficult post-convention days. He’s buttressed by factors including his big lead among non-college white men, 67-25 percent vs. Clinton, and the strong pull of ideology, with a 73-21 percent Trump lead among conservatives. He’s also up by a vast 76-18 percent among evangelical white Protestants, a core GOP group, and has improved from July among non-evangelical white Protestants, to 55-38 percent, Trump-Clinton.

One way to look at preferences is in profile: Fifty-six percent of Trump's supporters are whites who don’t have a college degree, vs. just 26 percent of Clinton's. Indeed 87 percent of Trump’s supporters are whites (regardless of education), vs. 56 percent of Clinton’s.

Faves

Clinton has gained 6 points in favorability from the pre-convention ABC/Post poll, from 42 to 48 percent, and her unfavorable rating has dropped from a high of 55 percent in June to 50 percent now. Her current 48-50 percent favorable-unfavorable score, while hardly great, is much better than Trump's and her best since January.

Trump’s favorable-unfavorable rating has not changed significantly since the conventions -– 34-63 percent now, vs. 31-64 percent before -– but he is +5 on favorability, and -7 in unfavorable views, compared with June, after he criticized a federal judge on the basis of his ethnicity. Still, while 42 percent of Americans see Clinton "strongly" unfavorably, that rises to more than half for Trump, 52 percent.

Among others in the political mix, 56 percent see Bill Clinton favorably, suggesting he can help his wife on the trail. Favorability is much lower for Melania Trump, 33 percent; compared with Clinton many more have no opinion of her, but among those who do, she is underwater, if not so deeply as her husband.

Vice presidential nominees Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, for their part, are similarly rated, both more favorably than unfavorably, albeit again with many undecided.

Then there’s Barack Obama; his 55 percent approval rating is essentially the same as in June and July, 56 percent, which was his highest in ABC/Post polls since 2009. He, like her husband, may be of help to Clinton in the campaign ahead.

Khan Controversy

The results suggest Trump did himself no favors by engaging in a dispute with the Khans after their appearance at the Democratic National Convention. But even if that issue reinforced concerns, it didn’t create them. While 79 percent of Americans say Trump does not show enough respect for people he disagrees with, that’s essentially the same as it was in May. Similarly, while 60 percent see Trump as biased against women and minorities, it was 56 percent in mid-July.

Trump is also underwater on whether he "goes too far in criticizing other people and groups" or "tells it like it is regardless of whether or not it's politically correct" – 57-42 percent. That means that perhaps his strongest rationale for being provocative falls short by 15 points.

Additionally, 40 percent support a temporary ban on Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the United States, a new low, but not by a significant margin. Fifty-one percent are opposed. (It was 43-52 percent in June.)

Qualifications

A fundamental assessment remains unchanged by the conventions, and it's another troublesome result for Trump: Americans by a wide margin, 61-38 percent, say he's not qualified to serve as president. (It was essentially the same, 60-37 percent, in mid-July.) The numbers are almost exactly the reverse for Clinton –- by 60-38 percent the public says she is qualified, also the same as before the conventions.

Qualifications are a powerful but not perfect predictor of vote preference. Among registered voters who see Trump as unqualified, 10 percent support him anyway (and 4 percent of those who see Clinton as unqualified support her). Clearly they simply have a bigger beef against the other candidate.

Honesty

While Trump's "Crooked Hillary" tag has resonance, he doesn't own the issue. Fifty-nine percent of Americans see Clinton as not honest and trustworthy, but 62 percent, as noted, say the same about Trump. (There’s some overlap: 25 percent see neither as honest and trustworthy, and about as many see both unfavorably.)

Matched head-to-head, Clinton has the edge among all adults in who’s more honest and trustworthy, 49-40 percent; this narrows essentially to a dead heat, 46-43 percent, among registered voters. In either case, it’s Clinton’s best vs. Trump on this gauge since ABC/Post polls started asking it in May.

In a related measure, 66 percent see Clinton as "too willing to bend the rules." That's eased a bit from its level in mid-July, 72 percent, shortly after FBI Director James Comey sharply criticized her email practices while secretary of state (albeit without recommending charges) -– but a substantial problem for Clinton nonetheless.

Attributes

Clinton is much better rated on other personal attributes. Only 31 percent of Americans say Trump has the kind of personality and temperament it takes to serve effectively as president and just 33 percent say he has a "good understanding of world affairs." By contrast, 61 percent say Clinton has the right personality and temperament, and 72 percent say she has a good grasp of the international situation.

In head-to-head matchups on attributes, Clinton is +9 points vs. Trump in who'd make the country safer and more secure (51-42 percent), +20 points in who "better understands the problems of people like you" (55-35 percent) and +32 points in having the better personality and temperament (62-30 percent). The gap on making the country safer narrows to a non-significant one among registered voters; the two others hold for Clinton.

One more attribute helps Clinton. For all the success of outsiders Sanders and Trump, Americans by 58-39 percent say they'd prefer the next president to be "someone who has experience in how the political system works" rather than someone from outside the political establishment. That’s widened from 52-43 percent in May, and it tracks closely with Clinton/Trump vote preferences.

Dissatisfaction/Anxiety

Given the dings against both candidates, plenty of dissatisfaction continues: Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with a choice between Clinton and Trump, virtually the same as before the conventions (58 percent).

This also appears in a lack of affirmative support, especially for Trump. Among registered voters, just 40 percent of his backers say they mainly support him; 56 percent instead say they mainly oppose Clinton. More of Clinton’s support is affirmative, but still just 49 percent.

Additionally, a remarkable 70 percent continue to say they’re anxious with the idea of Trump as president, exactly where it was in June and essentially unchanged all year, with half “very” anxious. Clinton’s ratings are hardly stellar, but far fewer express anxiety about her serving as president, 51 percent – again about where it’s been all year.

There’s another sharp difference between the candidates in their perceived optimism. Reflecting post-convention assessments, 70 percent see Clinton as optimistic about the country’s future, while 55 percent see Trump as pessimistic. Americans themselves are more pessimistic than optimistic overall (particularly Republicans and Sanders supporters), 42-52 percent. Clinton leads among optimists by a wide margin; Trump leads among pessimists, but less broadly.

Issues

While personalities are unusually dominant in this election, issues certainly matter too. Clinton leads Trump in trust to handle immigration, international trade, an international crisis and race relations. But they’re closer on two others that long have been at the forefront of public concerns, economy and terrorism.

They’re also close in terms of trust to handle taxes, and when Democrats are competitive on taxes, they usually do well. But, in 2016, history may not be the best precedent. With three months to go, this election has been anything but usual.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 1-4, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including 815 registered voters. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect, for the full sample, and 4 points for registered voters. Partisan divisions are 33-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents, in the full sample, and 33-27-35 among registered voters.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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