We mentioned last month that presidential polls aren’t really predictive at all until after both conventions are held. Now that we’re into August, what’s the state of the race?


While Donald Trump got a small bounce from his convention, it appears the convention also turned off voters to an unusually high degree; Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, got a large bounce from the Democratic National Convention and now has a healthy lead. 

Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight highlights some of the recent poll findings


Hillary Clinton continues to poll strongly in surveys conducted after the Democratic National Convention, which show her having received a convention bounce and gaining a meaningful lead over Donald Trump. The polls are coming in quickly enough that it’s somewhat futile to tick them off one by one, but here are some highs and lows as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday:

Clinton’s smallest lead in any fully post-DNC national survey is 5 percentage points.1 She achieved that 5 percentage point lead in several polls, such as this one from Public Policy Polling.

Her largest lead is 15 points, in a poll from RABA Research. That poll is something of an outlier, though, with most polls showing Clinton’s lead in the 5- to 8-point range.

Clinton’s largest bounce in any national poll, as measured in comparison to another survey by the same pollster conducted with a full set of interviews after the Republican National Convention, is 13 percentage points. That comes from a CNN survey, which showed her turning a 5-point deficit into an 8-point lead.

And her smallest bounce in any such survey is from YouGov, which had her lead growing from 2 percentage points to 5 points, a 3-point bounce.

Silver guesstimates that Clinton’s “post-convention lead over Trump will eventually settle in at about 7 percentage points, give or take a couple points.”

The fivethirtyeight model now gives Clinton a 68.4 percent chance of winning the White House. 


In many ways, the conventions reinforced the dynamics in the race before they started. Clinton is not a very popular candidate, but Trump is hideously unpopular. Trump is very good at appealing to a subset of voters who are concerned that too much political correctness is one of the biggest problems in the United States of America. And he will pick up most, though not quite all, of normal Republican voters even though many of them recognize that he is dangerously unfit for the presidency. Most folks pull the lever for the letter by someone’s name. The problem for Trump is that his coalition makes up a minority of voters. It’s a vocal minority! But most Americans, it turns out, are appalled by his authoritarian nihilism. Ironically, Trump appears doomed to lose handily to the silent majority of Americans. 

Indeed, many watched Trump’s convention and concluded that rather than making America great again, the deranged man yelling on their television was some kind of monster. (All this despite the endorsement by Scott Baio.) 

In fact, Gallup found that for the first time in the 32 years that it has polled this question for both party conventions, the GOP convention actually had more negative impact than positive: 36 percent of Americans said they were more likely to vote for Trump based on what they saw at the RNC while 51 percent said they were less likely. Sad! 

Trump’s speech also got poor reviews:  


Nate Cohn at the Upshot zooms out: 

What a month. At the end of a series of tumultuous events and two political conventions, the presidential race is more or less where it was before it all began: Hillary Clinton has a clear lead.

All seven national surveys conducted since the Democratic convention show her ahead, by an average of nearly seven percentage points.

It’s a seven-point boost over where those same surveys showed the race after the Republican convention — enough to erase Donald Trump’s bounce and more. She is about three points ahead of where she was before the two conventions.

Cohn goes on to argue that Clinton’s bounce appears likely to stick, because the many of the gains she made were with ideologically friendly voters as the party unified. “If Mrs. Clinton retains most of her gains over the coming weeks, Mr. Trump’s chances in the race will start to look fairly bleak,” Cohn concludes. “No modern presidential candidate who trailed in the polls a few weeks after the conventions has gone on to win the popular vote.”

If you want a sense of the mood at the Trump campaign, CNBC reporter John Harwood reports that a longtime ally of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, said the following: “Manafort not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.”