A new poll of registered voters by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News shows Donald Trump gaining on Hillary Clinton as he garners support from the Republican party as its presidential nominee. At this point, the Journal characterized a head-to-head contest between the two candidates as “virtually” a statistical dead heat.
Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, held an 11-point lead over the billionaire businessman last month, but that’s shrunk to 3 percentage points, according to the poll published Sunday. It shows Clinton leading Trump 46% to 43%, with Clinton’s support dropping below 50% in a contest with Trump for the very first time.
Trump’s surge in the polls since April is due in large part to his two remaining competitors—Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich—exiting the race following the Indiana primary. His support among Republicans jumped from 72% in April to 86%, while Democrat’s support for Clinton stayed largely unchanged.
With no other contenders still bidding for the party’s nominations, Republicans have consolidated behind Trump, giving him a natural boost. Clinton has yet to receive such a bump since Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders remains in the nominating contest. Some Democrats have urged Sanders to drop out so the party can unify behind Clinton, but his camp has rebuffed those calls by citing his primary wins and his strong polling against Trump.
Sunday’s survey reiterated that latter point, showing that Sanders holds a 15-point lead on Trump in a hypothetical matchup. Nevertheless, Sanders faces a near-impossible path to the nomination since Clinton has secured millions more votes and many more pledge delegates.
While Clinton and Trump are neck-and-neck nationally, they are both wildly unpopular among American voters. Fifty-eight percent view Trump negatively, and 54% say the same of Clinton, meaning at this point in the election, the two candidates have the worst public images in modern history.