Despite all of the dissent and drama in Cleveland last week, the Republican national convention has revived one political tradition — the post-convention bump. According to CNN’s analysis of its latest poll, Donald Trump has picked up six points to edge into a three-point lead over Hillary Clinton, as Jazz briefly noted earlier. It’s the first time in 16 years that CNN has detected a significant bump from a convention, so let’s take a deeper look:
Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.
There hasn’t been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN’s polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
The new findings mark Trump’s best showing in a CNN/ORC Poll against Clinton since September 2015. Trump’s new edge rests largely on increased support among independents, 43% of whom said that Trump’s convention in Cleveland left them more likely to back him, while 41% were dissuaded. Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein.
The timing of the polling might have had something to do with the bump, too, as more was going on than just the end of the RNC’s festival in Cleveland. Some of this polling was conducted on Sunday, when Debbie Wasserman Schultz and nearly all of it after the Friday exposure of the DNC’s e-mails and the hostility its top executives had toward Bernie Sanders. That big shift in independents might very well spring from that scandal, as Sanders’ supporters show their disgust with the Democrats.
Interestingly, though, the four-way question suggests a somewhat different dynamic. Before the convention, Johnson got 13% and Stein got 5% of respondents’ support. That dropped to 9% and 3% respectively, a six-point shift away from alternatives. Trump picked up five points to go to 44%, while Hillary dropped three points to 39%. Most of that was the independent vote, but overall it suggests that the race may become binary in voters’ minds more rapidly than perhaps first thought. And right now, at least, that’s helping Trump.
Hillary’s favorables have hit their nadir in the CNN series at 39/55 (41/55 among registered voters). That’s not much of a change from the 41/55 among all respondents from two weeks ago, but it’s the worst showing for Hillary since CNN stopped partnering with Gallup in 2006. Trump, on the other hand, got his best rating yet at a still-underwater 43/52. That’s his highest favorable and his lowest unfavorable in five years of CNN polling, and a sharp boost from 37/59 two weeks ago. On top of that, Trump’s holding 87% of Republicans in this poll, while Hillary holds 85% of Democrats.
The only flies in the ointment are a couple of key demos. Trump’s still getting edged out with white college graduates 47/43, a demo that Republicans usually win while taking the White House. He’s also getting creamed among non-white voters 69/23. Neither improves for Trump in the four-way race, either.
At least in the CNN poll, the post-convention bump looks real. The question will be how long it lasts, as Democrats have the chance to answer the GOP.
Oh, and just for giggles: Ted Cruz’ favorability went from 36/48 two weeks ago to … 27/57. Not every Republican got the post-convention bump, it seems.