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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet Monday night for their first debate in a virtual dead heat in the race for the White House, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with the Democratic nominee's August advantage erased after recent difficulties and the GOP nominee still facing doubts about his qualifications and temperament.

Likely voters split 46 percent for Clinton vs. 44 percent for Trump, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson at 5 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 1 percent. Among registered voters, Clinton and Trump are tied at 41 percent, with Johnson at 7 percent and Stein at 2 percent.

In a two-way matchup between the major-party nominees, Clinton tops Trump by 49 percent to 47 percent among likely voters, and the two are tied at 46 percent among all registered voters. Clinton's two-point edge among likely voters, in both the four-way and two-way ballot tests, is within the survey's 4.5 percentage-point margin of sampling error.

The findings underscore how much the presidential contest has tightened in recent weeks, after Clinton emerged from the two national conventions with a clear lead and with Trump on the defensive. In early September, Clinton led Trump by five points among likely voters. In early August, she led by eight points.

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>What Clinton and Trump must worry about in the first debate
>What Clinton and Trump must worry about in the first debate Karen Tumulty

The first presidential debate of the general election is often the most treacherous - especially for the candidate who steps on stage with the presumed advantage.

Which is why Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the one in that position this time around, knows not to take anything for granted.

...

The first presidential debate of the general election is often the most treacherous - especially for the candidate who steps on stage with the presumed advantage.

Which is why Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the one in that position this time around, knows not to take anything for granted.

... (Karen Tumulty)

As Clinton has run into turbulence, Trump has worked to present himself as a more disciplined candidate in an effort to attract more support from voters who traditionally have supported Republican nominees.

Some other national polls currently show Clinton with a slightly larger lead, but on balance, the pre-debate survey averages show the margin in the race in low single digits. The tightened race is a reminder of how much will be at stake Monday night at Hofstra University when the two meet at 9 p.m. before what could be one of the largest television audiences ever for a presidential debate.

Eight in 10 voters say they plan to watch Monday's debate, and 44 percent expect Clinton to win vs. 34 percent expecting Trump to come out ahead. Expectations for Clinton are lower than they were for President Barack Obama against Mitt Romney ahead of the 2012 debates, when 56 percent thought Obama would prevail vs. 29 percent for Romney. Although 17 percent of registered voters say the debate could change their minds, only 6 percent say there is a good chance of that occurring.

Most Americans say they are following the campaign diligently, but a higher percentage of Trump supporters appear to be paying close attention than Clinton backers. Also, more Clinton backers say they are not registered to vote, which adds to pressure on her team to get them registered and to the polls.

>Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency
>Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency Tribune news services

More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries...

More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries...

(Tribune news services)

Another potentially worrying sign for Clinton is that she is getting a smaller share of voters who supported Obama in 2012 than Trump is getting among those who backed Romney.

Obama's approval rating continues to be a potential boost for Clinton, however. His current approval among all adults is 55 percent, dipping from a high of 58 percent two weeks ago. But Clinton is facing a greater challenge reuniting Obama's winning coalition. Roughly 8 in 10 likely voters who supported him in 2012 currently back Clinton today, while Trump wins 9 in 10 of those who supported Mitt Romney.

The race between Clinton and Trump continues to be defined along lines of gender, race and education. Men and women are mirror opposites in their preferences, with 54 percent of men backing Trump and 55 percent of women supporting Clinton. The racial gap is far larger. White voters back Trump by 53 percent to 37 percent; nonwhite voters back Clinton by 69 percent to 19 percent.

But educational attainment among white voters continues to be the critical indicator. Trump leads Clinton by more than 4 to 1 among white men without college degrees, and by a smaller ratio among white women without college degrees and among college-educated white men. Clinton leads Trump by 57 percent to 32 percent among college-educated white women.

>Trump debate challenge: Keeping his cool if Clinton attacks
>Trump debate challenge: Keeping his cool if Clinton attacks Tribune news services

Donald Trump's advisers are urging him to keep his cool during next week's presidential debate and resist attempts by Hillary Clinton to provoke him with questions about his business record, wealth or controversial comments about minorities.

The focus underscores the campaign's concern that too...

Donald Trump's advisers are urging him to keep his cool during next week's presidential debate and resist attempts by Hillary Clinton to provoke him with questions about his business record, wealth or controversial comments about minorities.

The focus underscores the campaign's concern that too...

(Tribune news services)

Trump's support among white men has increased, and one key to his possible success will be maximizing that support, among college-educated and non-college-educated white men alike, while making appeals to college-educated white women.

Both candidates continue to be viewed negatively by the voters. Currently, 39 percent of registered voters have a favorable impression of Clinton, while 57 percent have an unfavorable impression. For Trump, the results are comparable: 38 percent see him positively, 57 percent negatively. That unfavorability number, however, is five points lower than it was just before the two parties' national conventions in July.

Both candidates are seen as lacking in honesty, although Clinton is in worse shape on this measure. Currently, 33 percent of voters say she is honest and trustworthy, while 62 percent say she is not. For Trump, it is 42 percent and 53 percent, respectively, an improvement since earlier this month.

Trump's major obstacle still appears to be the fact that majorities do not see him as qualified to be president or possessing presidential temperament. On those qualities, 53 percent of registered voters say he is not qualified, 58 percent say he lacks the temperament to serve effectively, and 55 percent say he does not know enough about the world to serve effectively.

Doubts about Trump's qualifications have softened somewhat since midsummer, when 6 in 10 registered voters said he was not qualified. White men are far more likely to say Trump is qualified (63 percent of white men vs. 43 percent of the overall voting public); to say Trump has the personality and temperament to serve effectively (54 percent vs. 38 percent); and to say Trump has sufficient knowledge of world affairs (57 percent vs. 41 percent).

>Voters see Donald Trump win as possible, and that might get more to vote
>Voters see Donald Trump win as possible, and that might get more to vote David Lauter

Donald Trump is enjoying his strongest position in the presidential race since immediately after his nominating convention and, for the first time, has started to significantly close the gap with Hillary Clinton on the question of which candidate voters expect will win — a shift that could boost...

Donald Trump is enjoying his strongest position in the presidential race since immediately after his nominating convention and, for the first time, has started to significantly close the gap with Hillary Clinton on the question of which candidate voters expect will win — a shift that could boost...

Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-poll-virtual-tie-clinton-trump-20160924-story.html

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