Elections

Majority of voters think Clinton acted illegally, new poll finds

A majority of voters believe Hillary Clinton has done something illegal, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll days before the presidential election.

A total of 83 percent of likely voters believe that Clinton did something wrong – 51 percent saying she did something illegal and 32 percent saying she something unethical but not illegal. Just 14 percent said she’s done nothing wrong.

By comparison, 79 percent think Donald Trump did something wrong, though not nearly as many think he did something illegal. Just 26 percent think he’s done something illegal, while 53 percent think he’s dome something unethical but not illegal. Just 17 percent think he’s done nothing wrong.

The deep suspicion of Clinton is likely a top reason she’s lost much of her lead and the race for the White House has tightened in the race’s closing days.

In a four-way race, the two are neck and neck with Clinton supported by 44 percent and Trump by 43 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson has 6 percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein has 2 percent.

In a two-way match up, Clinton has 46 percent, Trump 44 percent.

Both candidates are disliked.

Clinton gets a favorable rating from just 40 percent while 57 percent have unfavorable views of her. Voters have a 61 percent to 36 percent unfavorable-favorable rating of Trump.

“This is practically off the charts,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide survey. “You have candidates coming before the electorate with enormous baggage.”

Clinton has been dogged for the entire campaign by questions about her personal email account and her family foundation. Now, the final days of the campaign have been shadowed by the news that the FBI is examining new emails.

Voters cite those concerns, as well as many others, about whether she’s actually committed crimes.

“I’m sure she’s had people killed, there’s no doubt in my mind,” said John Hoke, 61, a programmer from Mount Holly, N.C. who is voting for Trump. He described Clinton an “evil person” who has “been that way ever since she was born.”

Norma Megenity, 82, of Barnes, Kan., said she’s supporting Trump because, “I think Hillary Clinton is a crook.”

“I watch the news, do a lot of reading,” Megenity said. “I’m 82 years old and remember the Clinton administration. I don’t need any more Clintons.”

More than half, 61 percent, said the accusations against Clinton would make a difference in how they vote.

Even 55 percent of those who are supporting Clinton and 50 percent of Democrats think she acted unethically.

Carl Jordan, 77, from Athens, Ga., is voting for Clinton, but not happily. He said Clinton is highly-qualified “but she doesn’t have the character,” Jordan said.

Jordan believes what Clinton did with her private email server is illegal and she probably engaged in unethical activity – pay-for-play – with the Clinton Foundation. “I believe that what Mrs. Clinton did was illegal – the personal server, the selling of influence for the support of the family foundation was unethical,” Jordan said.

Trump has his own problems, though voters tend to see those more as questions of personal ethics than the law.

He’s been accused of not contributing to his own foundation and spending its money on himself. And multiple women have accused him of sexual assault following the release of a decade-old video in which he bragged about groping women.

Joseph Woitko, 46, a lawyer and registered Democrat in Beaver Meadows in northeastern Pennsylvania, supports Clinton and says Trump acted unethically but not illegally. He said he viewed Trump as “immoral” and that he exhibited “highly improper behavior.”

“I listened in detail,” he said, referring to the tape of Trump boasting about forcing himself on women. “It seemed to be highly improper but I couldn’t get it to the level of criminal.”

“I don’t like his rhetoric,” said David DeAnda, 68, a Democrat from West Covina, Calif., who said he is voting for Clinton because he opposes Trump. “I don’t care for some of the things he’s said,” he said. “I don’t necessarily trust him that much.”

John Lounsbury, 80, a retiree from Clayton, N.C, who has already cast a ballot for Clinton, said he believes that Trump has sexually harassed women. “I see documentation from his own mouth,” he said. “His activities have to be believed since he’s the one saying it.”

Even 57 percent of those who are supporting Trump and 58 percent of Republicans think he acted unethically.

Fifty-five percent of voters said the accusations against Trump would make a difference in how they vote.

At the same time stories about the FBI inquiry may have raised more suspicion about Clinton, they also may have energized the vote for Trump.

The poll shows Trump gaining support among Republicans, as running mate Mike Pence and others have urged GOP voters in recent weeks to “come home.” Trump enters the final weekend with the support of 92 percent of Republicans. That’s more than Clinton, who has 89 percent support of Democrats.

Men remain the bedrock of Trump support with 50 percent backing him, compared to 38 percent for Clinton. Clinton has a similar edge with women, with 48 percent backing her, compared to 37 percent for Trump.

Clinton also has an edge among college-educated voters, 54-36 over Trump. Non-college educated voters support him by a similar margin: 49-34.

John Swinson, 57, of Wilmington, N.C., who is caring for his mother, said he voted for Clinton, mostly because he opposes Trump. The Democratic voter said he believes both have acted illegally.

“That server was wrong,” he said. “You can say you are sorry and made a mistake, but it was wrong and she knows it.”

But Trump, he said, is worse, noting that he had “made his living off stiffing vendors and filing bankruptcies...with Trump we probably only know just the tip of the iceberg.”

Vera Bergengruen, William Douglas and Kevin G. Hall contributed.

METHODOLOGY

This survey of 1,587 adults was conducted November 1-3 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. Adults 18 and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English or Spanish by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. Assistance was provided by Luce Research for data collection. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. There are 940 likely voters defined by a probability turnout model which determines the likelihood respondents will participate in the 2016 Presidential Election based upon their chance of vote, interest in the election, and past election participation. The results for this subset are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

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