CBS/NYT poll: Hillary lead cut by two-thirds, up only within MoE

The 2016 election comes down to this — last scandal wins. So far, that looks like good news for Donald Trump as a number of polls show a shift toward him after Friday’s eruption on the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal … or at least away from her. The latest iteration of the CBS/New York Times poll shows Hillary losing two-thirds of her lead in two weeks to fall into a virtual tie with Trump:

The race for president has tightened since mid-October: Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by three points nationally.  Just over two weeks ago, after the second debate and amid accusations by women that Trump had made unwanted sexual advances towards them, Clinton’s lead had expanded to 9 points, up from her 4 point lead in early October.

In a two-way match-up (without explicitly naming third party candidates), Clinton’s margin is similar: she leads Trump by 3 points among leaned likely voters, down from an 11 point lead a couple of weeks ago.

At this late date, few voters say they might change their minds.

For those keeping sampling scores, the partisan split here seems reasonable at D+5, 36/31/33 on RVs, and D+4 among likely voters (36/32/32). The story of this polling series is a reversion to the status quo following the first debate at the beginning of October, when Hillary led by an almost-identical 45/41. The dynamics ever since appear to follow the scandal arc. When Trump got hammered on his past behavior with women, Hillary built a commanding lead. Now that the shoe has gone to the other foot, we’re back to early October and might be heading back to the mid-September tie of 42/42.

The data in the poll supports that conclusion. Unlike other polls we’ve seen, the CBS/NYT test of the impact of the new e-mail scandal eruption breaks down the response a little better. Almost a third of all likely voters who have not yet voted say it makes them less likely to vote for Hillary, but that includes 57% of Republicans, whom we can assume weren’t likely to Be With Her in the first place. However, it also includes 8% of Democrats and 35% of independents, which makes the issue more acute for Team Hillary. The numbers for Trump’s scandals are actually worse, but they appear to have been more assimilated into voters’ decisions by now.

As predicted in a highly negative and personal cycle, enthusiasm has dimmed considerably since the last presidential election. Only 49% of likely voters overall express any enthusiasm, down from 62% in 2012. Every demographic listed has a double-digit decline, the largest of which comes among millennials — a sixteen point drop from 47% to 31%. That, plus a fourteen-point decline among black voters, has to have Team Hillary in a panic.

Of course, it’s possible that nothing much has changed at all. That’s what Reuters reports from its polling series today — a steady Hillary lead unchanged after the Comey letter:

Hillary Clinton led Republican Donald Trump by 6 percentage points among likely voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Wednesday, the same advantage the Democratic presidential nominee held before an FBI announcement that reignited the controversy about her email practices.

The Oct. 28-Nov. 1 opinion poll was conducted almost entirely after FBI Director James Comey notified Congress last Friday his agency would examine newly discovered emails that might pertain to Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. …

Among 1,772 people who have either voted already or were identified as likely voters in the Nov. 8 election, 45 percent said they supported Clinton, while 39 percent said they backed Trump. On Thursday, the day before Comey’s announcement, Clinton led Trump by 43 percent to 37 percent.

In a four-way poll that included alternative party candidates, Clinton led Trump by 8 percentage points among likely voters. Forty-five percent supported Clinton, while 37 percent backed Trump. Five percent supported Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 2 percent backed Jill Stein of the Green Party.

It seems rather unlikely that the Comey letter had no effect. The RCP aggregation on national polling shows a definite trend back to a margin-of-error average over the past week. So far, though, only the LA Times/USC tracking poll shows Trump going into the lead — and they had him there before the letter, too. Maybe it’s not that the last scandal wins, but the most scandalous does instead.