It’s just one poll, and sometimes reaction to election-rattling events doesn’t immediately show up in the data. That’s why Hillary and her surrogates have been so aggressive in attacking Comey over the last 48 hours. They’re waging war to shape public opinion so that voters walk away from this episode believing that the announcement reflects badly on Comey rather than on the scandal-prone candidate whom he really should have recommended prosecuting when he had the chance back in July.
On the other hand, Trump’s numbers in the RCP national average dipped immediately after the “Access Hollywood” tape was released on October 8th, so sometimes voters do form instant judgments that drive the polls. There’s no evidence of that here, even though nearly everyone sampled by Morning Consult (89 percent) said they were aware of the news on Friday about the FBI reopening the investigation.
Morning Consult conducted a survey Oct. 27-28 and found Trump had gained three points, moving from 36 percent support after the third presidential debate to 39 percent a little more than one week later. Clinton remained at 42 percent. We conducted a second poll hours after Comey’s letter was sent, and found support for both candidates did not move. The polls were conducted online with 1,794 likely voters and 1,772 likely voters, respectively…
More people are worried that an investigation into Clinton’s email will continue into her administration, 61 percent, than the 47 percent who think the same could happen to Trump and cases on Trump University.
Nearly half of those surveyed, 45 percent, say the Clinton emails were worse than the Watergate scandal, a talking point Trump has hammered since news broke Friday. More than eight in 10 Republicans say it is worse than Watergate.
Thirty percent of undecideds said it made them much less likely to vote for Hillary, but I never know what to make of numbers like that. The question isn’t whether you’re less likely to vote for her, the question is whether you think you’ll stay home now or vote for Trump instead. Someone who votes enthusiastically for her counts just the same as someone who votes for her very grudgingly. But if you’re looking for evidence that the news has damaged her even a little bit, that’s it.
Incidentally, Morning Consult has had Clinton rock steady at 42 percent in every poll they’ve conducted since the tape came out on October 8th. All of the movement in their data since then has come from Trump. He was at 39 percent two days before the tape, then sank to 36 afterward, and in the last few days before Comey’s announcement he climbed back to 39 percent. That parallels the national average, in fact, as you can see with a glance at RCP’s graph. Apart from a brief spike in her numbers mid-month, Clinton’s been floating around the 45 percent mark since the tape emerged. It’s Trump’s movement that’s dictated how wide or narrow her lead is. He cratered after the tape story broke, remained submerged while the sex-assault accusations flew, but has been climbing steadily now for a week. Yesterday (after I wrote this post) he hit 42.7 percent, his best average of the year. Today’s he’s at 42.6. It’s not that Clinton is losing votes, it’s that Trump seems to be bringing in third-party voters and undecideds — and Comey’s announcement, insofar as it reminds everyone of Hillary’s worst excesses at a decisive moment, might be helping with that. But Morning Consult, at least, isn’t seeing evidence of it yet.
If you’re a Trump fan hoping to leverage the FBI news, the worry isn’t that it hasn’t damaged her — as I say, it might help Trump consolidate his own base — the worry is that there may not be anywhere left for this story to go before Election Day. If the FBI says nothing else about the investigation by the end of this week, voters may go into the final weekend assuming that whatever’s on Huma Abedin’s hard drive can’t be too important or else the feds wouldn’t risk sitting on it through Election Day. Silence may be taken to mean absolution for Clinton. And meanwhile I think it’s shrewd, if sleazy and demagogic, of Hillary and her team to be treating Comey as public enemy number one, as that might give demoralized Democrats a reason to turn out. Dem complacency was her biggest worry back when she had a wide lead over Trump; what if his loyal base turned out and hers, thinking the election was in the bag, didn’t? The new worry is that some soft Clinton supporters will hear the FBI news and conclude that she’s just too flawed a candidate to bother showing up for. The solution to that is partisan rage. Comey, supposedly, is upending trusted American institutions the same way the evil Donald Trump wants to, never mind that the single biggest election-related affront to law and order Comey was guilty of this year was letting Clinton off the hook after she very clearly committed a felony in mishandling classified information. If Clinton loses a few swing voters by demagoging Comey, she’s willing to trade that for higher turnout among her own base, especially with the FBI news erupting during early voting. That’s what all the pants-wetting this weekend from big-name Democrats is about. The more unrighteously indignant the left gets, the more (in theory) rank and file Democrats will feel obliged to show up next week and stop Comey from “stealing” the election for Republicans. It’s her own surreal version of Trump’s “system is rigged” shtick, except this time it’s the politician who best embodies just how rigged the system is who’s making the accusation.
Via the Free Beacon, here’s a trip down memory lane to this past summer, when Democrats thought Comey’s decision to let a criminal off scot-free because she’s a big political name was an act of supreme patriotism ‘n stuff.
Update: Another post-Comey poll sees no movement (yet).
YouGov tracker, like Morning Consult, says no weekend shift https://t.co/YEKmCU03KB
— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) October 31, 2016