Washington: The race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has narrowed down nationally, raising the stakes dramatically for the first presidential debate, according to a new poll.
The ABC News-Washington Post poll released on Saturday said that a vast 74 per cent of Americans plan to watch the debate, while eight in 10 have said that it would not change their minds, that leaves more than enough to shift the balance in an increasingly closely fought contest, with unprecedented levels of qualms about both major-party candidates.
In all, 44 per cent of likely voters say they would vote for Trump, while 46 per cent preferred Clinton, unchanged from an ABC/Post poll conducted earlier this month.
The 2-point gap between them is not significant, given the survey's margin of sampling error.
The race has closed from an 8-point Clinton lead in early August.
Currently, an NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll has placed Clinton a 6 point lead, 43 per cent to Trump's 37 per cent, among likely voters.
According to Saturday's poll, Trump's fortunes rest on his core supporters, white men who lack a four-year college degree, an economically stressed and socially and politically conservative group. He leads Clinton among them by 76-17 per cent, an enormous 59-point advantage.
Meanwhile, Clinton has advanced to a 25-point lead among college-educated white women, 57-32 per cent, extending her advantage in this group from 10 points earlier this month.
The division between non-college white men and college-educated white women is its widest by far in exit poll data back to 1980, the poll showed.
Fifty-nine per cent of Americans see Trump unfavourably, while 55 per cent have said the same about Clinton. Neither candidate was seen as particularly honest and trustworthy. Fewer than half, 45 per cent, see Trump as honest and trustworthy; but it goes lower, to 36 per cent, for Clinton.
This ABC News-Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone from September 19 to 22 in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including 651 likely voters.
Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect, for the full sample, and 4.5 points for likely voters. Partisan divisions are 33-23-36 per cent, Democrats-Republicans-independents, in the full sample, and 37-27-28 among likely voters.