By Jim Ellis
Aug. 12, 2016 — Despite major media coverage to the contrary, Donald Trump’s polling standing in comparison to Hillary Clinton appears to be improving nationally, and in certain key states. Other surveys point to Clinton sustaining her large leads.
The latest national poll, from Bloomberg News/Selzer & Company (Aug. 5-8; 1,007 adults, 749 likely US voters) finds Trump pulling back to within four points of Clinton, 44-40 percent, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson attracting a nine percent share, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein obtaining a four percent preference vote.
A day earlier, the UPI/C-Voter survey (Aug. 2-8; 993 likely US voters) came out with Clinton also maintaining a four-point advantage over Trump, 49-45 percent. In this survey, the third-party candidates were not included on the ballot test questionnaire.
Twenty-four hours before the UPI poll was released, NBC/Survey Monkey publicized the results of their latest large sample national poll (Aug. 1-7; 11,480 registered US voters). While showing a 10-point, 51-41 percent spread in a head-to-head question, the margin declines to six points (44-38-10-4 percent) when Johnson and Stein are added. The polls including the third party candidates are more realistic because Johnson will appear on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while Stein has so far qualified in 27 states and is awaiting a favorable petition decision in an additional 10.
On the other hand, Susquehanna Polling & Research (July 31-Aug. 4; 772 likely US voters), in a poll taken a bit earlier than the others previously mentioned, finds a 10-point Clinton lead, 47-37 percent, when the two candidates are isolated. Repeating a common pattern, the margin closes slightly when the minor party candidates are included. Here, the ballot test reports a 46-37-7-3 percent split when Johnson and Stein are provided as options.
Quinnipiac University also released battleground state polls that provide Trump better news in Florida and Ohio, while detecting solid improvement for Clinton in Pennsylvania. To win the general election, Trump must convert both Florida and Ohio to his column. If he does, winning Pennsylvania would actually give him enough of a margin (273 Electoral Votes) to win the presidency, assuming he carries every state Mitt Romney won in 2012.
From July 30 through Aug. 7, the Q-Poll administrators interviewed likely voters in the three most critical swing states. In Florida, 1,056 individuals comprised the sampling pool, while 812 were questioned in Ohio, and 815 in Pennsylvania.
The Florida results found Trump closing to within one point of Clinton, 46-45 percent, a marked improvement. Both candidates, however, have almost identical and decidedly negative images. By a 39:55 percent ratio, the sample cell members held an unfavorable impression of Clinton. Trump’s score was virtually the same: 39:54 percent.
The Ohio sampling group delivered a similar result. Here, Clinton led her opponent 49-45 percent, but has a significantly better image, though still highly negative. Clinton: 40:55 percent; Trump: 34:58 percent.
The Pennsylvania numbers are swinging definitively toward Clinton. In the Keystone State, Q-Poll respondents gave the former First Lady a full 10-point edge, 52-42 percent. The Pennsylvania poll recorded a 44:51 percent favorable to unfavorable result, while Trump registered a notably worse 36:57 percent.
If Trump loses Pennsylvania, then he must cobble together a secondary group of states that would push him over the 270 Electoral Vote plateau. One of those latter places would almost assuredly be New Hampshire. Here, however, a new poll gives the Republican nominee negative news.
The Vox Populi survey research organization (Aug. 7-8; 613 active and new voter New Hampshire registrants) casts Clinton with a 10-point lead in the Granite State, 41-31 percent, with Johnson and Stein receiving 11 and three percent, respectively.
Though some of the latter numbers suggest that a tall mountain remains for Trump to scale, he has made noticeable progress in closing last week’s overall polling gap.