Endgame in new Monmouth poll: Clinton leads 50/38 -- in the four-way race

A counterpoint to Ed’s post this morning noting the surprisingly tight ABC/WaPo poll. A four-point lead for Clinton at this stage isn’t great, but it isn’t doom.

This one from Monmouth, though? Doom. As in “wave bye-bye to the Senate” doom.

Currently, 50% of likely voters support Clinton and 38% back Trump, with 5% supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2% backing Jill Stein of the Green Party. Clinton held a much slimmer 46% to 42% lead just three weeks ago.

The vote choice among all registered voters is 47% Clinton and 38% Trump. Clinton has a larger likely voter lead because only 5% of her potential supporters are considered unlikely to vote while twice as many possible Trump voters (10%) are unlikely to cast a ballot next month. This marks a change from Monmouth’s prior poll when 10% of registered voters supporting Clinton and 7% of registered voters supporting Trump were deemed unlikely to cast ballots…

Another campaign issue that has come to a boiling point is the GOP nominee’s relationship with the Republican Party itself. Among all voters, 41% say the party is not giving Trump enough support, 27% say it is giving him too much support, and just 23% say the party is giving Trump the right amount of support. Among Trump voters, fully 81% feel the Republican Party is not giving their candidate the support he deserves, with 2% saying it gives too much support and 14% the right amount.

As you see from the excerpt, a big part of the shift towards Clinton here is in relative enthusiasm. Some Republicans are newly discouraged after the “Access Hollywood” tape and sexual-assault allegations while Democrats are energized. Trump’s rift with the rest of the GOP may be contributing to his side’s demoralization too: Between the huge number of Republicans who think the party should be supporting him more eagerly and Trump’s own dopey insistence on telling his fans that the election is rigged, a lot of Trump voters suddenly have compelling reasons to stay home this fall. Why vote in a rigged election? Why help a party downballot that’s not loyal to your guy? The GOP, from the nominee himself to the leadership that hates him, has partly become an engineer of its own humiliating defeat. Although have a peek at this fascinating number from the NBC/WSJ survey released yesterday that showed Clinton up by 11 points overall. It may be that voters are becoming so resigned to a Clinton win that it’s leading them to support Republicans downballot, on the theory that an unlikable figure like President Hillary will need to be contained by a GOP Congress. Huh.

Let’s take a bird’s-eye view of the national polls to try to resolve the discrepancy between Monmouth and ABC/WaPo. Is this a 12-point race or a four-point race? Questions like this are why we have polling averages. In reality, it’s probably more like a seven-point race. Fox News’s poll last week had the margin exactly at seven (45/38), in fact; a new one today from George Washington University has it at eight (47/39). Seven points is almost exactly what Obama’s landslide margin over McCain in 2008 was. And there’s no mystery as to what’s driving this. Here are the gender splits in Monmouth, the GW poll, and the NBC/WSJ poll:

Monmouth: Clinton leads men by one point (43/42), Clinton leads women by … 17 (51/34)
NBC/WSJ: Trump leads men by three points (48/45), Clinton leads women by … 20 (55/35)
GW: Trump leads men by five points (44/39), Clinton leads women by … 18 (54/36)

Clinton’s relatively small advantage of eight points among women in the ABC/WaPo poll explains why her overall margin there is just four. The previous ABC/WaPo poll had her ahead by 19 points among women, which is far more in line with her enormous lead in other recent national polls. Harry Enten has a piece out today that captures the dynamic well: “Men Are Treating 2016 As A ‘Normal’ Election; Women Aren’t.” Click the link and check out his table there summarizing the recent national numbers for both genders. Trump leads men by an average of seven points whereas Clinton leads women by an average of 20. And bear in mind that women tend to vote at higher rates than men, which means that if Trump wants to catch Clinton, he not only needs his lead among men to catch up to hers with women, he needs more men than women to turn out this fall. Unless something unusual happens in the next few weeks, America’s women voters are going to stomp Trump on Election Day.

Another point worth noting in the national polling averages: Clinton is now at 45.9 percent in the four-way race, which is her best number of the entire campaign. Today’s Monmouth poll is the first time she’s ever hit 50 in a national survey, but she’s been at 47 percent or better in four of the last six polls taken. To put that in perspective, only once before since early August had she ever touched 47 percent in a four-way poll. She’s peaking as Election Day approaches. Also, interestingly, her lead in the four-way race (6.9 points) now actually exceeds her lead in the two-way race (6.4 points). That’s unusual because, until recently, Gary Johnson had been pulling slightly more voters from Clinton than Trump in most polls, guaranteeing a slightly tighter race in the four-way contest. Now, however, Johnson’s numbers have begun to fade: He was averaging nine percent nationally last month but has slipped to six percent, which is probably due to some Democrats who are ambivalent about Hillary and who used to back the libertarian deciding to vote for her anyway. Meanwhile, it may be that all the scandal talk lately around Trump has driven a few soft Republican supporters into Johnson’s camp, which would explain why Clinton’s actually stronger in the four-way contest now. All the trends are the wrong way for Trump.

And yet:


The new polls are not “good.” Two of the new polls, in fact — the Monmouth and NBC/WSJ surveys I mentioned above — point to a hellacious beating next month, with Clinton standing a real chance of winning every state on the east coast plus a few traditional red ones like Arizona. Monmouth is also the most recent national poll taken; it was conducted from October 14-16, meaning that it’s the only national indicator of reaction to the sexual-assault allegations that we have right now. And that’s the one that has her at 50 percent with a 12-point lead.

What Trump means by “good” polls, I take it, are these new battleground numbers from CNN that show Hillary up just one point in North Carolina and two points in Nevada while Trump is back to a four-point lead in Ohio. Those are good numbers — relatively, since he needs to win all three states to have any chance at the presidency — but there’s also reason to think CNN is underestimating how many Democrats plan to turn out this fall. CNN has Clinton leading comfortably among registered voters in NC and NV, by five points and seven points, respectively. Typically Dems lose one or two points off of their lead among registered voters when likely voters are screened, but CNN sees Clinton dropping by four points in North Carolina among likelies and by five in Nevada — something that has the pros at The Upshot and FiveThirtyEight scratching their heads. CNN seems to be expecting a much redder electorate in November than virtually every other pollster is. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but conspicuous differences from the pack in polling usually point to “outlier.” (Also worth noting: CNN began polling those three states on October 10th, before any of the sexual-assault allegations against Trump began circulating. It could be that the numbers are already outdated.) In fact, Qunnipiac has its own poll of Ohio out today conducted over almost entirely the same period as CNN’s. Result: All tied at 45, not Trump by four, and Clinton leads in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

One more data point for you, this time courtesy of Nate Cohn: Less than three weeks ago, Trump’s favorable rating among Republicans was 72/26. Three weeks later, it’s 63/34. He can complain all he wants about “rigging” but some significant minority of his own party has turned on him at a moment when he’s desperate to consolidate support on the right. Whether that’s because of the accusations against him, because of his own reaction to them plus his complaints about cheating, or because some Republicans see the writing on the wall in November and no longer feel compelled to stick up for him, you can decide. Exit quotation from Rush Limbaugh: “We’re getting close now to the period of time where the pollsters are going to have to start showing the race as it is. Now, I’m of the opinion they’re not yet. I’m of the opinion that they’re still using their polls to make news.”