What About That CNN Poll Showing Donald Trump Ahead Of Hillary Clinton?
Why, then, is there so much anxiety among Clinton supporters? One reason is a new CNN poll, released on Monday, which generated headlines saying Trump had taken the lead. Among respondents the pollsters deemed “likely voters” that was true: the poll showed Trump at forty-four per cent, and Clinton at forty-two per cent. But among the broader pool of registered voters, Clinton was still ahead, forty-four per cent to forty-one per cent.
Essentially, the pollsters screened out some of Clinton’s supporters because they didn’t adjudge them likely to turn out on November 8th. There’s nothing unusual or untoward in that. As elections approach, many polling organizations switch their focus from registered voters to likely voters. But all such screens are somewhat arbitrary, because each polling organization has its own criteria for screening out unlikely voters.
When inspecting the trend in a given poll, it is also better to compare like with like. In this case, we can still look at registered voters: among those voters, Clinton’s lead in the CNN poll has shrunk from eight points a month ago to three points now. That finding is in line with other recent polls. On August 10th the Real Clear Politics poll average, which combines the results of numerous surveys, showed Clinton leading Trump 47.8 per cent to 39.9 per cent, a gap of almost eight percentage points. By Tuesday morning the gap had narrowed to 3.3 percentage points. (Clinton: 46.2 per cent; Trump: 42.9 per cent.)
Monday’s CNN poll confirmed that Clinton has a serious image problem. Asked to choose the most honest and trustworthy candidate, just thirty-five per cent of respondents picked her, and fifty per cent chose her opponent. Given Trump’s long record of bankrupting companies, stiffing suppliers, exaggerating his net worth, and running a sham university that charged high fees to low-income people, this was a remarkable (and depressing) finding.
t it needs putting in perspective. To come out on top in November, Clinton doesn’t need to transform herself into a beloved leader. She just needs to defeat Trump, who, by most measures, is even more unpopular than she is. Here again, the poll averages provide more reliable information than individual surveys. According to the Huffington Post’s poll average, Trump’s net favorability rating—that is, his favorable rating minus his unfavorable rating—is minus nineteen. Clinton’s figure is minus 14.6.