Morning Consult: Going into conventions, this race is pretty much a tie

Today we will witness the opening volley from the Republicans as we kick off two weeks of national convention coverage. For traditional observers of America’s Game of Thrones, this is the beginning of the “real” presidential campaign, when much of the country beings to turn at least part of their attention away from baseball and summer vacations to the business of selecting the next president. If we had to pick a date to stick a pin in the map and begin tracking who has any sort of electoral advantage, this would be the week to do it. And with that, Morning Consult has released their latest findings on the state of the race.

Their verdict can be best summarized with two facts. First of all, neither of the major party candidates are particularly popular. And second, nobody is heading into the final stretch with a decided advantage.

Donald Trump remains within striking distance of Hillary Clinton as the Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland.

A national Morning Consult survey taken over the past weekend shows the bellicose businessman trailing the former secretary of State in a head-to-head matchup, 41 percent to 39 percent. In our previous survey, Trump was just one point behind Clinton. One-fifth of voters remain undecided.

Here’s the breakdown for the head to head match-up, showing very little drift over the past month.

MC1

When you add Gary Johnson into the mix, it doesn’t change all that much. The gap between Clinton and Trump remains effectively the same, though the undecided go down a bit.

MC2

Taking Morning Consult’s numbers, we’re within the margin of error but Clinton retains a slight edge with her own convention yet to come. So how close is that to reality? First of all, we’re into the stage where the major polling outfits are sampling likely voters rather than just adults, so we may be seeing something a bit closer to reality. But what about the party breakdown in the sampling? While not as bad as some that we’ve seen, this survey still raises some questions. Looking at the crosstabs, MC has sampled 37% Democrats, 34% independents and 29% Republicans.

Does that strike anyone else as a bit off the mark? As of Gallup’s June survey, they’ve got the electorate pegged at 28% Republican (which is pretty close to MC’s sample), 39% independent and 31% Democrat. Mind you, I’m just doing this on the back of a cocktail napkin with my morning coffee, but if you adjust the Morning Consult numbers based on that scale, the results flip and Trump comes out leading by around two percent. It’s still basically a tie, but given the shape of this race there’s little to look at besides the leaners.

What I’ll be watching for after I get back from Philadelphia in a couple of weeks is the bounce. Will there be one? The conventions are normally just entertainment for wonks, but given the tensions gripping the nation and the endless coverage of everything surrounding Donald Trump, ratings may be considerably higher. Both Trump and Clinton have a chance to move the needle when they take the big stage, though at this point I’m not sure what either one of them can say that’s going to significantly change their fortunes.

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