Reuters giveth, and Reuters taketh away. After seeing her lead balloon to twelve points earlier in the week, Hillary Clinton’s edge on Donald Trump dropped by more than half in the latest iteration of their tracking poll. Trump has moved back within five points, mainly through a fade in Hillary’s support back to her August low:
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads her Republican rival Donald Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters, down from a peak this month of 12 points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Friday.
The Aug. 22-25 opinion poll found that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, while 36 percent supported Trump. Some 23 percent would not pick either candidate and answered “refused,” “other” or “wouldn’t vote.”
Clinton, a former secretary of state, has led real estate developer Trump in the poll since Democrats and Republicans ended their national conventions and formally nominated their presidential candidates in July. Her level of support has varied between 41 and 45 percent during that period, and her lead over Trump in the tracking poll peaked this month at 12 percentage points on Tuesday.
During the past week, Clinton has been dogged by accusations by Trump, which she has denied, that donations to her family’s charitable foundation influenced her actions while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Questions have also surfaced again about her use of a private email server and address rather than a government one during her period at the State Department.
The twelve-point peak occurred this week, not just earlier this month. Hillary went from 45/33 to 41/36 in, oh … three days. Tracking polls do have some volatility to them, but this is a bit out of the ordinary. It does, however, align the Reuters tracking poll much more closely to the YouGov tracking poll that showed the race within the margin of error.
So what changed? Maybe nothing, as Nate Silver suggested:
People underestimate how noisy polling is. Here's what random variation looks like in a 1000-person "tracking poll". pic.twitter.com/rrelQcYCMo
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 27, 2016
Let’s take a look at the same demos we did when the poll showed a 12-point gap from Trump’s perspective, with those numbers first:
- Men: -8 to -4
- Women: -16 to -6.6(!)
- White voters: 38.1/37 to 41.1/35.5
- College educated white voters: 32/44 to 36/41
- Romney voters: 73.2 to 75.3%
- Independents: 37/27 to 34/23
- Born-again Christians: 42/36 to 47/31.8
- Middle-ground conservatives: 51/22 to 50.5/21.5
Trump improved in the gap with women by nine points, improved with white voters overall (including college-educated whites), and picked up nine points in the gap with born-again Christians. What would have caused all of that? Hillary had a bad week, with all sorts of scrutiny into the Clinton Foundation and connections to actions taken at the State Department, while Donald Trump maintained focus on those scandals for most of the week. That would account for the shift, although another explanation would be that the earlier tracking results were an outlier.
This is still not great news. If these results reflect the state of the race, Trump’s still trailing, but not as badly as it appeared. One cannot lose both men and women and win the White House, after all. But this week proves that Hillary remains vulnerable — polling at 41% is hardly a strong hand — and applying a hard focus on her activities at State and the family foundation could pay off for Trump.