It’s a little early and we’ll have to await the release of more polls for the data to fully shake out but it appears that Donald Trump did get a bounce from his convention, albeit likely a very small one. The HuffPo average now has the race essentially tied at 42 after Hillary Clinton led for months (Trump has been gaining on Clinton for weeks, so some of this may have less to do with the convention itself than other factors).
CNN has a new poll out showing Trump with a lead via the first significant post-convention bounce they’ve measured since 2000. CBS, meanwhile, is out with a new poll that shows less of an impact — both Trump and Clinton have gained 2 points after the convention and the Tim Kaine announcement, respectively. The new YouGov poll out today, which re-contacts the same voters over time in eleven battleground states had Trump up 42-41, representing a 2-point gain for Trump while Clinton was flat.
The prediction model at fivethirtyeight still has Clinton the favorite to win the election but it’s getting tight — she has a 54 percent chance to win as compared to 46 percent for Trump. Nearing toss-up territory. And if the election was held today, according to the fivethirtyeight model, it’s actually Trump who would be a narrow favorite to win (57.5 percent chance of prevailing if the election was held today, the first time their model has made that finding).
Of course the election isn’t being held today — their own convention will provide Democrats an opportunity to unify the party, rally supporters, and win over swing voters. The Democrats essentially only have to match the Republican convention on this front to emerge with a significant lead, and they’re likely aiming higher than that.
The polls are not really predictive at all until after both conventions have been held (I’m old enough to remember the huge Dukakis lead after the Democratic convention in 1988). Most media reports will bury this detail so keep it in mind!
My prediction is that the once the sorting is over we’ll be back where we started, with Clinton a strong, if not dominant, favorite. But if you want a snapshot of the race today, Trump is a legitimate threat to take the White House.
Nate Silver looked at the question of whether Trump had gotten a bounce before this latest round of polls:
Polls taken during and after the Republican National Convention, which concluded on Thursday in Cleveland, generally show Donald Trump continuing to gain ground on Hillary Clinton, making for a close national race. But it’s customary for candidates to receive a “bounce” in the polls after their convention. There’s not yet enough evidence to come to firm conclusions about the size of Trump’s convention bounce, but the initial data suggests that a small-to-medium bounce is more likely than a large one.
Silver’s big-picture conclusion on the state of the race:
Whereas June’s polls suggested a potential blowout for Clinton, July’s polls have shown a highly competitive race. We’ll see what August’s polls bring, after the Democrats have held their convention and the bounces have died down.
Two notes to keep you sane in the coming weeks: 1) keep an eye on the polling averages rather than any one poll and 2) we probably won’t have a clear picture of the shape of the race until well into August when the dust has settled from the conventions, the parties coalescing, etc.