Can't Win? Post-Convention Bump Sends Trump Surging in Polls
"It's not Trump's convention bounce per se that should worry Dems. That's pretty normal. It's how it became so close to begin with," Nate Silver tweeted.
Donald Trump has surged in election polls, bolstered by post-convention support, to overtake Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/ORC survey (pdf) that finds the Republican nominee at 44 percent to Clinton's 39.
The latest poll measures Trump against Clinton, the Green Party's Jill Stein (three percent) and Libertarian Gary Johnson (nine percent). In a hypothetical two-way matchup, Trump beats Clinton at a slightly closer 48 to 45 percent.
There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
National polls don't have a large enough sample to accurately reflect the state of play in key battlegrounds, and there is little information thus far on how Trump's convention performance has affected the presidential race state-by-state.
Still, the results were enough to influence FiveThirtyEight's election forecast, which on Monday estimated that Trump has an overall 57.5 percent chance of winning, while Clinton has 42.5 percent.
In a separate article published Saturday, FiveThirtyEight editor and statistician Nate Silver wrote:
The convention bounce is going to be harder than usual to study this year. That's because in contrast to 2012, when the polls were extremely steady for weeks before the conventions, they were on the move heading into the RNC this year.
[....] So when you see a new poll suggesting that Trump has received a bounce, or failed to receive one, you'll want to be mindful of when the previous edition of the poll was conducted. If the pollster had last surveyed the race in June, odds are that Trump has made some fairly big gains. Some of those were probably realized before the convention and not because of it, however. But if the previous edition of the poll was in July, his gains are likely to be smaller.
CNN/ORC's previous survey was conducted July 13-16, according to the file.
Monday's poll was taken July 22-24, after Trump accepted his party's nomination and delivered a speech that garnered comparisons to Richard Nixon and Adolph Hitler—a moment that came amid an already-chaotic Republican National Convention (RNC), as Melania Trump was accused of plagiarism and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was booed offstage for refusing to endorse his party's nominee.
It also comes as Democrats struggle to find unity within their party, which was further fractured last week after WikiLeaks published a trove of internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails showing the party had undermined Sanders' campaign from the start. Sanders is reportedly planning to meet with delegates on Monday after DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down in the wake of the leak—only to immediately join Clinton's campaign as "honorary chair."
All that means there are bigger concerns than just the numbers, Silver wrote on Twitter on Monday.
"It's not Trump's convention bounce per se that should worry Dems. That's pretty normal. It's how it became so close to begin with," he tweeted. "Trump trailed by around 3 points in our forecasts a week ago. Typical convention bounce is 4 points. So you end up at Trump +1 or so."
CNN/ORC's poll surveyed 1,001 adults by phone. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.