Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by 8 points after tape scandal, debate: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Oct 10, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Oct 10, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Mr Donald Trump has fallen further behind Mrs Hillary Clinton and now trails her by eight points among likely voters, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, with one in five Republicans saying his vulgar comments about groping women disqualify him from the presidency.

The national tracking poll was launched after Sunday (Oct 9) night's second presidential debate, where Mr Trump was pressed to explain his comments in a 2005 videotape about grabbing women's genitalia. He described the remarks, which first surfaced on Friday, as "locker room" banter and apologised to Americans.

The poll released on Tuesday (Oct 11) showed Mrs Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had increased her lead over Trump, the Republican nominee, to eight percentage points on Monday from five points last week.

When asked to pick between the two major-party candidates, 45 per cent of likely voters said they supported Mrs Clinton while 37 per cent supported Mr Trump. Another 18 per cent said they would not support either candidate.

Mr Trump was under pressure during Sunday's debate to restore confidence in his struggling campaign after dozens of lawmakers repudiated him over the weekend. He hammered Mrs Clinton's handling of classified information while serving as secretary of state and referred to her as "the devil".

At one point, he said he would jail Mrs Clinton if he were president.

Among those who said they watched at least portions of the debate, 53 per cent said Mrs Clinton won while 32 per cent said Mr Trump won. The results fell along partisan lines, however: 82 per cent of Democrats felt Mrs Clinton won, while 68 per cent of Republicans felt that Mr Trump won.

Among likely voters who watched the debate, 48 per cent said they supported Mrs Clinton while 38 per cent supported Mr Trump.

'LOCKER ROOM TALK'

In the 2005 Access Hollywood video, Mr Trump boasted about making unwanted sexual advances towards women. "When you're a star they let you do it," he is heard saying.

Some 61 per cent of those polled said that "lots of men" occasionally engage in similar conversations, and 46 per cent, a plurality, said it was unfair to judge someone on conversations "that they did not intend for anyone else to hear".

Most of those polled said they believe Mr Trump is a sexist, but they were split on whether his comments disqualify him from being president. Some 42 per cent of American adults, including 19 per cent of registered Republicans, said Mr Trump's comments disqualified him, while 43 per cent said they did not.

Among Republicans, 58 per cent said they want Mr Trump to remain atop their party's ticket, and 68 per cent said the Republican leadership should stand by him.

The video doesn't appear to have worsened Mr Trump's standing among women, who mostly had a low opinion of him already, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling over the past 12 months.

When asked to pick between the two candidates, about 44 per cent of women chose Mrs Clinton while 29 per cent selected Trump - roughly the same proportion as measured in polls conducted before the weekend.

Mr Trump, however, appears to be shedding support among evangelicals, who are usually a wellspring of support for Republican presidential candidates. Monday's poll showed that Mr Trump had only a one-point edge over Mrs Clinton among people who identified as evangelicals. That's down from a 12-point advantage for Mr Trump in July.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll is conducted online in English in all 50 states. The poll of 2,386 American adults included 1,839 people who watched the debates, 1,605 people who were considered likely voters due to their registration status, voting history and stated intention to vote in the election. Among the likely voters, the poll counted 798 Democrats and 586 Republicans.

The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 2 percentage points for the entire group, 3 points for likely voters and the debate watchers, 4 points for Democrats and 5 points for Republicans.

National opinion polls have measured support for the candidates in different ways this year, yet most agree that Mrs Clinton is leading and that her advantage has strengthened as the general election approaches.

RealClearPolitics, which tracks most major opinion polls, shows Mrs Clinton ahead of Mr Trump by an average of 7 percentage points, and that her lead has grown since the middle of September.