Did the debate produce a change in the race? According to Democratic pollster PPP, not really — even if a majority of respondents believe Hillary Clinton won it. In their four-way question as well as in their two-way version, Hillary leads Donald Trump by four points … which is about where this series has had the race since both candidates clinched their nominations:
PPP’s new national poll finds Hillary Clinton leading by 4 points both in the full field of candidates, and in a head to head match up with Donald Trump. In the full field she gets 44% to 40% for Trump, 6% for Gary Johnson, 2% for Evan McMullin, and 1% for Jill Stein. She leads Trump 49/45 if voters had to choose just between the two of them.
“We’ve consistently found Hillary Clinton with a national lead in the 3-6 point range since Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “She’s never been able to blow the race wide open and she probably never will, but her modest advantage has proven to be quite durable.”
Monday night’s debate was a big success for Clinton. 54% of voters think she won it, to only 31% who think Trump won.
Debnam’s not kidding about the static nature of the race in their polling. PPP has not polled often in the race, but a look at the RCP aggregation shows that PPP had Hillary up five in late August, up four immediately after the conventions, and up four in late June as well as early May. Going by their polling, nothing either candidate has done has changed the race at all, including the debate.
Rasmussen, in comparison, shows a six-point swing in the gap to Hillary from last week’s results after the debate:
Our latest national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Clinton with 42% support to Trump’s 41%. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earns seven percent (7%) of the vote, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein holds steady at two percent (2%). Three percent (3%) still like some other candidate, and five percent (5%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Eighty percent (80%) say they are sure which candidate they will vote for, and among these voters, Clinton and Trump are tied with 48% support each. Among voters who say they could still change their minds, it’s Clinton 34%, Trump 33%, Johnson 25% and Stein 8%.
Rasmussen converts its White House Watch poll from weekly to a daily tracking poll after today, by the way.
Getting back to PPP, the sample has a few issues. The age and ethnic demos look realistic, but the partisan balance is 41/34 Democrat, which seems like … a lot of Democrats, even in a presidential election year. The self-described split for the 2012 vote was 50% Obama and 40% Romney, which seems more than a little off from the 51/47 actual result.
However, those demographic issues don’t matter much when looking at the series by itself, where its stability seems to be the most remarkable attribute. It still shows Trump within range of Hillary — in fact, just about within the ±3.2% margin of error. If that’s the case, then the debate win doesn’t matter much for Hillary, and her attack lines didn’t work as intended. That becomes clear in the add-on questions that have become PPP’s hallmark.
- Do you think Donald Trump should apologize to Barack Obama for spending 5 years questioning whether he was born in the United States, or not? — 48% yes, 43% no
- Do you think it is appropriate or inappropriate for Donald Trump to criticize a former Miss Universe for gaining ‘a massive amount of weight?’ — 17/65
- Do you think Donald Trump is as rich as he says he is, or not? — 35/37
Hillary hit Trump and scored points on those questions, and yet … the needle didn’t move at all on the toplines. They planned entire media campaigns on these questions, and it turns out that voters just don’t care about these points when it comes to their vote.
Trump still has another shot at making himself acceptable to more voters in the next two debates. The question will be whether he recognizes the need to prepare enough to deliver on those openings.