Last week at this time, Donald Trump had tied Hillary Clinton in the CBS News poll, erasing a six-point deficit from mid-June after the Republican convention. A week later, Hillary has re-established her lead in the series, going up 46/39. The Democratic nominee picked up a four-point bounce, while Trump dropped three points.
It’s not exactly a historic bounce, CBS explains, but Democrats will take it:
Forty-six percent of voters nationwide say they’ll vote for Clinton in November, while 39 percent say they’ll back Trump. The race was tied last week after the Republican convention. Clinton led by a similar margin in June.
Clinton got a four-point bounce after her party’s convention, compared to a two-point bump for Trump after his convention.
When compared to previous Democratic presidential nominees, Clinton’s bounce is similar to those President Obama got in 2012 and 2008, but short of the 13-point bounce her husband, Bill Clinton, received in 1992. In 2000, support for Al Gore rose 10 points after the Democratic convention, but he went on to lose a close race that fall.
Democrats shouldn’t pop corks just yet — but Republicans shouldn’t be rejoicing, either. The polling data provided at the link doesn’t give too much detail, but the behavior of independents should have both concerned. Hillary and Donald split them evenly in a binary choice, 37/37, and the Republican edges the Democrat with unaffiliated voters 39/38 when leaners are counted. In a four-way race, Trump leads 33/31, with another 15 going to Johnson.
Interestingly, independents make up 42% of the sample, which is otherwise D+7 (35/28). That’s a bit of a tilt, especially given that the 2012 turnout model had independents as the lesser of the three partisan groups (38/32/29). It might be that the unfavorability of both nominees has more people claiming unaffiliated status this time around. Still, it’s worth noting that independents favored Romney 50/45 while he lost by four points. Obama won that election by turning out lower-engagement voters, mainly within his own base, even though Romney slightly edged Obama in party loyalty (93% to 92%). The kind of turnout Obama inspired in both of his elections is not likely to be repeated in this cycle, which should have been good news for the GOP.
The problem for Republicans is that Trump isn’t holding the Republican vote as well as Hillary holds Democrats, and this isn’t the first poll to show that. In the two-way race with leaners, Hillary holds 86%, while Trump only holds 81%. In the four-way race, Hillary holds 80% and Trump 76%, suggesting that the alternative candidates are drawing away from the major-party nominees roughly equally. Most importantly for Hillary, she has the support of 73% of self-professed Bernie Sanders voters, up from 67% before the convention — and before the exposure of the DNC e-mail scandal.
At least in this poll, Hillary seems to be on her way to unifying her party and aiming at a traditional approach to a general-election win. However, it’s best to wait for two to three weeks after major events to see what happens in polls once voters have fully absorbed the changes. The small amplitude of the Hillary bounce in the afterglow from Philadelphia might be a good sign for the GOP. If those unity numbers don’t improve for Trump, though, he’ll have a tough time making it a close race.