In tonight's Super Bowl of American politics, the ratings will be huge and the contenders start dead even, says a Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday.
But who's going to win this first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? From Sept. 22-25, American likely voters told the independent pollsters they give a 41-32 percent edge to Clinton -- confirming the media assumption that expectations are higher for the Democrat than for the Republican. And 84 percent of voters say they plan to watch the highly anticipated showdown.
In fact, 55 percent of likely voters nationwide say they are “more motivated that usual” to vote, while 11 percent say they are less motivated and 33 percent say their motivation is “about the same as usual.”
There is a small gender gap and a wide racial divide in the four-way likely voter matchup as Clinton leads 47-42 percent among women, while men go to Trump by a narrow 44-40 percent. Trump leads 50-36 percent among white voters, while non-white voters back Clinton 66-24 percent.
“The race for president is a virtual tie and millions of likely voters consider the first debate must-see TV. And for those inclined to place a wager on the likely winner, Hillary Clinton is the best bet,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Right now, Malloy says, in a head-to-head matchup, Clinton gets 47 percent to Trump’s 46 percent, with 8 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and 2 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein Too close to call.
Neither Johnson nor Stein will be on the debate stage at Hofstra University tonight.
The Q-Poll result compares to a 41-39 percent Clinton lead among likely voters, with Johnson at 13 percent and Stein at 4 percent, in the university's Sept. 14 survey.
In the four-way presidential matchup, Trump leads 86-5 percent among Republicans and 42-35 percent among independent voters. Democrats back Clinton 90-6 percent.
American likely voters say 73-18 percent that Trump is healthy enough to be president. Clinton is healthy enough to be president, voters say, 58-31 percent.
For 33 percent of voters, their opinion of Trump was affected in a negative way by his participation in the so-called “birther movement,” which said President Barack Obama was born outside the U.S., while 4 percent say their opinion was positive and 60 percent say it did not affect their opinion.
Trump’s announcement that he now believes President Obama was born in the U.S. did not affect their opinion of him, 78 percent of likely voters say.
A total of 50 percent of voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that they or a family member will be a victim of a terrorist attack, while 50 percent are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”
Government anti-terror policies have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country, 51 percent of voters say, while 27 percent say they have gone too far restricting civil liberties.
From Sept. 22-25, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,115 likely voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Live interviewers called landlines and cell phones.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia and the nation as a public service and for research. For more of a break-out on this latest poll, visit http://www.qu.edu/polling or www.facebook.com/quinnipiacpoll. Follow Q-Poll on Twitter: @QuinnipiacPoll.