For many Americans, and not a few journalists, this election can’t end soon enough. Fifty-nine percent of Americans reported that they were “exhausted” by election coverage — and that was in early summer. Since then, those following the campaign have been drinking from a fire hose of election news: the conventions, the Khan family, Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia and stumble, Donald Trump’s taxes and the Access Hollywood tape, and James Comey’s latest announcement, to name just a few.
But how much have these story lines actually changed the race? That’s a hot topic these days, with some polls showing dramatic swings toward Trump while others have hardly budged. Writing at YouGov, Ben Lauderdale and Doug Rivers make the case that a lot of what we are seeing is driven by changes in who responds to surveys, not in who voters intend to support. If so, this presidential race might be more stable than you would think by looking at polls on a given day.
Imagine for a moment that we lived in a democracy with snap elections, and that Trump and Clinton faced off in January of this year. Would the distribution of public support have differed much from what it is today? With a team of researchers including my University of Pennsylvania colleague Diana Mutz and the University of Massachusetts’ Seth Goldman, I’ve been conducting the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics panel, a survey which has asked the same respondents questions about politics over almost nine years.