The glass-half-full takeaway from the Reuters-Ipsos tracking poll results today is this: It could have been worse. The glass-half-empty conclusion: Well, it is, albeit marginally. After a weekend of bombshell revelations and rollicking debate, Donald Trump emerged with a three-point decline in the gap and now trails Hillary Clinton by eight. Trump hasn’t hit his lowest level in the post-August trend in this series, but he’s coming close:
Donald Trump has fallen further behind Hillary Clinton and now trails her by 8 points among likely voters, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, with 1 in 5 Republicans saying his vulgar comments about groping women disqualify him from the presidency.
The national tracking poll was launched after Sunday night’s second presidential debate, where Trump was pressed to explain his comments in a 2005 videotape about grabbing women’s genitalia. He described the remarks, which first surfaced on Friday, as “locker room” banter and apologized to Americans.
The poll released on Tuesday showed Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had increased her lead over Trump, the Republican nominee, to 8 percentage points on Monday from 5 points last week.
When asked to pick between the two major-party candidates, 45 percent of likely voters said they supported Clinton while 37 percent supported Trump. Another 18 percent said they would not support either candidate.
One in five Republicans may consider Trump disqualified, but he’s holding almost all of the rest at 77.3% in a binary matchup with Hillary. Hillary holds 79.5% of Democrats, so in this series at least, that’s not exactly a big issue. Curiously, Trump’s still leading among independents (32/24) with 27% choosing “other.” That ticked upward from a solid tie a day earlier, and the overall takeaway seems to be that there are a lot more Democrats in this poll than Republicans.
Reuters has been a volatile tracking poll for the entirety of the general election, given to wilder swings than others, but generally paralleling the movements in polling. The gap may be overstated but the trend seems to match up with other polling seen in the last couple of days, but the optimistic take seems to be true — the damage done to Trump looks like a margin-of-error shift and not a preference cascade. Yet, anyway.
However, that’s only half of the problem. Clinton has outside-the-MoE leads in almost every recent poll even before the Friday release of the Access Hollywood tape. The last poll that had Trump in the lead in a national poll other than the LA Times tracker was Fox News from early September. The RCP average has Hillary up six points, and even the LA Times poll now shows Trump slipping behind Hillary for the first time in a month. Time’s running out for big comebacks that will move the needle, even assuming that there’s nothing left in the oppo-research quiver. Any move backward makes gaining ground that much more difficult to accomplish in time to matter — especially with early voting already under way.