By Maurice Tamman
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democrat Hillary Clinton led Republican Donald Trump by more than 5 percentage points in the Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll released on Friday, little changed in weeks as the U.S. presidential campaign wobbles into the heart of summer.
Since July 28, Clinton’s daily support among likely voters in the poll has hovered between a low of 41 and a high of 44 percentage points. She was at 41 percentage points on Thursday, down slightly this week.
Trump’s support has moved slightly more, ranging from a low of 33 percentage points to a high of 39 points. He was at 36 points on Thursday, up slightly this week.
Among registered voters, Clinton was ahead by 9 points on Thursday, 42 to 33.
At this point in the 2012 election, both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney had solidified their support, and Romney held a 45 percent to 41 percent lead, with only 14 percent of likely voters not picking one of the two candidates.
Trump, a New York businessman seeking his first elected office, has been mired in controversies in recent days, and many establishment Republicans have begun to distance themselves from his campaign.
He drew heavy criticism for suggesting gun rights activists could take action against Clinton, a statement he later said was meant to rally votes against her. On Thursday he repeatedly accused Clinton and Obama of being co-founders of the Islamic State militant group. On Friday he said the remarks were meant to be sarcasm.
On Thursday, the number of likely voters who were not picking either Clinton or Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election was 22 percent. That number has remained stubbornly in the 20- to 25-point range for weeks.
Despite that, neither of the alternative candidates is gaining traction. In a four-way race, Libertarian Gary Johnson saw his support dip slightly to 7 percentage points on Thursday, down from a high of nearly 9 points earlier this week.
Green Party nominee Jill Stein was at about 3 points on Thursday, largely unchanged.
The results on Thursday were taken from a sample of 1,446 registered voters and 1,116 likely voters surveyed between Aug. 7 and Aug. 11. The results have a credibility interval of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Howard Goller)