The post convention bounces are over. At least for a few days so is the Donald Trump self-inflicted implosion phase of the campaign. Although, it has only been exactly three days since his new campaign manager has entered the fray and enforced some discipline and some common sense talk on the Donald. So we will have to see if can be sustained. I have always had a healthy respect for my polling colleague Kellyanne Conway and I have always felt that she and Frank Luntz are the best in the polling and messaging business.
With that said, the polling numbers have changed substantially this week. If we just look at the polls released just this week, we find that Hillary Clinton is leading the four-person race by just three points – 40.5% to 37.5%. And just taking a look at the Zogby Analytics Poll, her lead is just two points – 38% to 36% — over Trump. Sunday’s Los Angeles Times/USC rolling average shows Trump actually now in the lead 45% to 44% over Mrs. Clinton. The sum total of all this is that with about two weeks to go before the traditional Labor Day start to the campaign-in-earnest, this race is not a lock for anyone.
Let’s just examine the Zogby Analytics Poll. Since the July poll, Clinton has declined three points from 41% to 38%, while Trump declined two point from 38% down to 36%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson moved up from 5% to 8% and Green Party’s Jill Stein is now at 5% (up from 3%). But there are still 13% overall who are still undecided and, as always, the real truth emerges when we look at the cross tabulations.
Thus, Trump leads among men (41% to 35%), voters over 50 (41% to 36% among 50-64 year olds and 44% to 36% among those over 65), and whites (45% to 29%). But he has also gained with leads among groups who have been supportive of President Barack Obama in the past two cycles – NASCAR Fans (44% for Trump to 36% for Clinton), Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers (41% to 36%), and voters who live in a household where there is an armed services veteran (47% to 28%). In each case, Trump has increased his lead over the July Zogby Analytics Poll. Trump also leads among voters who have not attended college (39% to 36%) and among independents (32% to 26%). Trump also is ahead among Catholics by 3 points (41% to 38%). Remember that Catholics supported Bill Clinton, gave Al Gore an 8 point edge in 2000 , John Kerry a 4 point margin in 2004, and voted with Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
For her part, Clinton has a ten point lead among women (42% to 32%), those with a college degree (31% to 38%), moderates (42% to 30%), voters in households where there is a union member (39% to 32%), Hispanics (51% to 18%), and African Americans (81% to 8%). She holds an 18 point lead among the Creative Class (45% to 27%).
Clinton is ahead among 30-49 year olds by ten points – 43% to 33% — though her lead has dropped three points. Most importantly is that Johnson and Stein now receive 13% each among the youngest group of voters – a dramatic increase over their support in July.
So what do we make of all of this? As I hear regularly anecdotally: “I will probably vote for the lesser of two evils. I just haven’t figured out which candidate that is”. Again and again, the key to understanding which direction the electorate goes is to figure out who Millennials vote for – and, for that matter – for whom they choose to vote. To date, Clinton has a big lead but it is nowhere near the amount of support received by President Obama.