Yes, yes, this comes from Rasmussen, whose track record in presidential polling for the 2012 election was less than stellar, and whose 2016 results have fallen almost entirely on the sunny side for the GOP. However, their latest survey results don’t look outlier-ish in trend, even if the demographics look very questionable once you peek under the hood. Over the past week of Rasmussen polling, Donald Trump has picked up five points in the gap against Hillary Clinton and has moved into a slight lead, at least in the four-way race:
Hillary Clinton’s post-convention lead has disappeared, putting her behind Donald Trump for the first time nationally since mid-July.
The latest weekly Rasmussen Reports White House Watch national telephone and online survey shows Trump with 40% support to Clinton’s 39% among Likely U.S. Voters, after Clinton led 42% to 38% a week ago. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson now earns seven percent (7%) of the vote, down from nine percent (9%) the previous two weeks, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein picks up three percent (3%) support. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate, and seven percent (7%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Clinton’s support has been trending down from a high of 44% in early August just after the Democratic National Convention. This is her lowest level of support since mid-July. Trump’s support has been eroding, too, from his high of 44% at that time. A one-point lead is statistically insignificant in a survey with a +/- 3 percentage point of margin of error. It highlights, however, that this remains a very close race.
If you’re skeptical about the Rasmussen trend, how about the Fox News poll series?
FOX NEWS POLL: Clinton 41%, Trump 39%, Johnson 9%, Stein 4% pic.twitter.com/pdmQJ9bzxy
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) September 1, 2016
A month ago, that same series had Hillary up by ten points. And for that matter, what about the Reuters tracking poll that put Trump down twelve points last week? That suddenly looks curiously close, too:
The Real Clear Politics average has moved from Hillary +6.6 to Hillary +4.9 in the past four days. For the first time in six weeks, the Trump-friendly LA Times/USC national tracking poll has the Republican nominee in the lead by three points. Clearly the race has some significant movement toward Trump — or perhaps more accurately, away from Hillary. Guy Benson sees the ongoing revelations in a series of Clinton scandals as the driving force behind the changes:
Hillary's honesty rating has dropped 10 net points since Fox's last poll in early August: pic.twitter.com/bigvI6aV2r
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 1, 2016
Guy has more on the Fox poll, so be sure to check it out.
With all of that in mind, the Rasmussen trend fits right into the overall picture, even if the topline might be a wee bit optimistic. The demographics raise a couple of serious questions, however. The gender-gap figures seem in range of other polling, with Trump up seven with men and down 15 with women, but that’s about all that does.
The most eye-popping result is Trump getting 24% of black voters, with Hillary down to 67%. Any Republican who can get 24% of the African-American vote should win in a landslide, but at the same time Trump’s only holding a 10-point advantage among white voters, which should indicate a Democratic landslide. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election while winning white voters by 20 points, 59/39. Not even the cheery LA Times poll has support from black voters above 5%.
A few other deviations from the norm emerge as well. For instance, Rasmussen has party loyalty almost entirely even (71% for Trump, 73% for Hillary) when most polls give Hillary a significant edge. Young voters break yuuuuge for Hillary in every other poll, but here she only leads 45/28. Trump leads in every education bracket except advanced degrees and has a 12-point advantage among baccalaureates.
One or two demographic surprises might be tolerable, but this asks us to swallow a lot of sharp differences from other surveys. These demos should have Trump up by double digits, especially when combined with a 24/67 split among African Americans. Rasmussen is getting the trend correct, but be careful about relying on them to show the status of the race between the two major-party nominees.