Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.If Democrats have a competent convention, this bounce shouldn't last -- they'll get one of their own. But, of course, the standard pundit line on the Republican convention was that it was an incompetent convention. The no-shows! The plagiarism scandal! The Cruz non-endorsement! The gloom and doom! The sinister calls for the imprisonment of the opponent!
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.
The new findings mark Trump's best showing in a CNN/ORC Poll against Clinton since September 2015.
Well, at least for now, that all worked in the eyes of key voter groups:
Trump's new edge rests largely on increased support among independents, 43% of whom said that Trump's convention in Cleveland left them more likely to back him, while 41% were dissuaded. Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31%.Ordinary Americans don't care about process. They don't care that Melania's speech wasn't properly vetted or that Cruz and Trump renewed their beef. And a culture that considers the Games of Thrones Red Wedding to be the height of quality entertainment isn't going to be shocked by repeated calls to lock Hillary Clinton up, especially when the convention and its surroundings were essentially violence-free, contrary to some expectations.
... Trump expanded his lead with white voters who do not hold a college degree from a 51% to 31% lead before the convention to a 62% to 23% lead now.
This conventions got two messages across very, very effectively:
(1) Donald Trump is a wonderful family man and a brilliant, can-do businessman; and
(2) Hillary Clinton is skeezy and untrustworthy and incompetent and evil.
And so, on point (1):
Beyond boosting his overall support, Trump's favorability rating is also on the rise (46% of registered voters say they have a positive view, up from 39% pre-convention)....And on point (2):
The convention also helped Trump make strides in his personal image. A majority (52%) now say Trump is running for president for the good of the country rather than personal gain, just 44% say the same about Clinton. He's increased the share who call him honest and trustworthy (from 38% to 43%), and who would be proud to have him as president (from 32% to 39%). And nearly half now say he's in touch with the problems ordinary Americans face in their daily lives (46% say so, 37% did before the convention).
Perhaps most troubling for the Clinton supporters gathering in Philadelphia this week: 68% now say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, her worst rating on that measure in CNN/ORC polling.So is Trump going to win? I still think he'll lose, though it'll be a close election. But did he get as much out of the convention as he possibly could? Yes, he did. The Republican convention worked.
Now, it's up to the Democrats to have a similarly successful convention. Will they? Political insiders will say they're starting off on the wrong foot, with leaked email revelations about pro-Hillary favoritism at the Democratic National Committee and the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Regarding all that, I'm going to say the same thing I said about the GOP's process woes: Ordinary voters don't care. They don't care about the inner workings. They don't know who Debbie Wasserman Schultz is.
Politically engaged voters care, but conventions are a way to reach the less engaged. I do think Democrats have really lost a fair number of Sanders supporters who might have drifted back, but I don't know how many such voters there are -- Bernie-or-Busters get disproportionate attention because they're overwhelmingly white and well educated, but there may not be a lot of them.
I'm more worried about a Democratic Party that's doesn't seem clear on which voters it's targeting or what messages will reach them. All year, the Clinton campaign seems to have been trying to rerun the Obama campaigns -- same outreach to women, LGBT voters, non-whites, and young voters ... and then a white man whose leanings are frequently corporatist gets the running-mate nod ... and then he speaks a lot of Spanish in his first speech after being chosen. Outreach to Obama coalition? Outreach to business-friendly, socially liberal GOP moderates? What's the plan?
I hope the message comes together. I hope Clinton and her surrogates find a way to counter the increasingly universal belief that she's dishonest -- their failure to take this head on reminds me of John Kerry's failure to deal with the Swift Boat liars, or Mike Dukakis's deer-in-the-headlights response to the Willie Horton ads.
On the other hand, some serious talent will be speaking at the convention: both Obamas, Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren. That ought to help.
Please note a fact quoted above:
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....That year, we had two nominees who were widely disliked. This year, same thing. So there could be another big bounce next week -- and we could be headed for another 50-50 election.