Hmmm: Clinton by two -- in Ohio?

A nice example of why data nerds are forever insisting that polling averages are worth more of your time and interest than any individual poll. Outliers are built into any sample, and this new Monmouth survey of Ohio feels very outlier-ish. The only way to avoid being inadvertently misled by them is to focus on the average. Apart from one stray CBS poll early last month that had Clinton up seven points(!) in the state, Trump has led every poll of Ohio since September 1st. At the start of business this morning, his lead in the RCP poll average stood at nearly four points. A recent Quinnipiac poll conducted after the debate last week found him holding steady with a five-point lead, in line with his pre-debate polling. Unless he’s begun to collapse nationally and Monmouth is picking up the first evidence of it in one of his strongest swing states, their data is probably just a blip.

It’s worth noting, though, that Monmouth absolutely nailed the Ohio Democratic primary earlier this year. Most pollsters had Clinton winning in the mid- to high single digits. Monmouth had her winning by 14. The margin on Primary Day: Clinton by 13.8. Today they see it Clinton 44, Trump 42 in the four-way race:

Clinton is not doing quite as well as Barack Obama did four years ago among black, Hispanic, and Asian voters (73% to 15% for Trump compared with 84% for Obama to 14% for Mitt Romney in 2012). Likewise, Trump is not doing quite as well with white voters (48% to 39% for Clinton) as Romney did (57% to 41% for Obama). These results have not changed substantially since August…

Clinton does have an advantage on a few key metrics. More Buckeye State voters say Clinton understands the day to day concerns of people like them – 47% feel she does and 51% feel she does not – than say the same about Trump – 37% feel he does and 60% feel he does not.

Clinton has an even wider advantage on the issue of presidential temperament. Significantly more voters say Clinton has the right temperament for the job (59%) than say the same about Trump (33%).

The spread on which candidate better understands the day-to-day concerns of people like you are striking. If ever there was a category in which you’d expect a populist with an ardent blue-collar fan base to dominate an elitist Washington dinosaur, that’s it. Yet Clinton’s numbers are 10 points better than Trump’s, probably because his white working-class supporters are offset and then some by Clinton’s minority working-class fans. Their respective favorable ratings, meanwhile, are putrid and nearly identical but the wide gap in terms of presidential temperament is familiar by now from various other polls. What’s less noticed, though, is how badly the temperament question might be hurting Trump within his own party:


Nearly a third of his own party says he’s unfit for office in terms of temperament. Not coincidentally, his overall favorable rating among Republicans looks similar at an underwhelming 62/26. As a comparison, Clinton’s favorables among Democrats are 76/12 while the split among Dems on whether she has the right temperament for the job is … 91/8. Among independents, 52 percent say she has the right temperament versus 47 percent who say she doesn’t; for Trump, the split is 32/60. If he had used the last few months to reassure voters that he isn’t erratic, the improvement among Republicans alone on the temperament question might have been enough to give him the lead in Ohio even in this Monmouth survey. (It’s surely holding his lead in other polls of the state.) But he is where he is.

In fact, click on the image in the tweet below to see how far ahead of him some Republican Senate candidates are running in battleground states. That’s great news for the GOP insofar as Trump isn’t weighing the party down downballot (or at least, not by wipeout proportions), not so great in that this gives you a sense of how well a different Republican presidential nominee might be faring in swing states:

Trump remains the favorite in Ohio in FiveThirtyEight’s model of the state, incidentally, but he’s dropped from being a nearly two-to-one favorite on the day of the debate to a roughly 50/50 proposition now. Ohio is an absolute must-win for him, needless to say.

Update: Trump critics are reacting to this post on Twitter by pointing out that the king of Ohio, LeBron James, endorsed Clinton just within the past few days, and that the NYT story about Trump’s taxes broke on the first day the poll was in the field. Those two developments could be pushing undecideds towards Hillary, in which case this isn’t an outlier. Duly noted. We’ll see what the next polls of Ohio say.