Morning Consult: Trump, Clinton now within margin of error

Continuing our routine for the last month or so, it’s time for the weekly Morning Consult presidential tracking poll results. As you may recall, on August 21st the survey had Trump closing the gap but still trailing. A week later on August 28th, the trend in the polls continued and The Donald was hovering just outside the margin of error. This week the shift was smaller, but still in the same direction, and both the head to head and four-way match-ups have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump within the margin of error, with Clinton leading by a statistically insignificant two points in a sign that Trump’s immigration speeches and visit to Mexico aren’t hurting him at all.


A week that saw Donald Trump solidly embrace his well-known harsh rhetoric on immigration has done little to change his standing among the public. After flirting with, but ultimately rejecting, a “softening” of his previous statements that all unauthorized immigrants must leave the country, the Republican businessman is within the margin of error in a head-to-head matchup with his opponent Hillary Clinton, according to Morning Consult’s new poll…

Trump trails Clinton by only 2 percentage points, 42 percent to 40 percent, in a poll taken Sept. 1 through Sept. 2. That’s little changed from a week earlier, when the GOP nominee was behind the Democratic rival by 3 points. Almost one-fifth of registered voters (18 percent) still don’t know or have no opinion, despite Election Day being roughly two months away.

The toplines are available at this link but here’s the head to head match-up.


As you can see, with a margin of error of only two points, Clinton is only up by two. Trump’s support remains steady from last week at 40, but Clinton has slipped another point. When we go to the four way race both of their numbers soften but the margin remains the same.


Going to the crosstabs we see that not much has changed. We’re still dealing with a healthy sample size of registered voters, but this may be the last week for that. Most polls switch to likely voters after Labor day and Trump has been overperforming in that metric so I’ll be watching to see if there’s a shift in his direction next week. One change in these demographics is that the sample shifted slightly in party registration. Through last week the D/I/R split had been 35/33/32. This time there’s a small (and probably statistically insignificant) shift to 35/32/32, but it’s worth sticking a pin in for now.


While the favorability and right track/wrong track figures are mostly static, there’s a mixed bag of news on the immigration front, which is key to Trump’s message. In fact, Morning Consult’s analyst, Fawn Johnson, said that the public’s response, can best be described as schizophrenic. (Read the immigration toplines here.)

Support for the wall is a tossup, with 46 in favor and 45 opposed. The shocker is the response to the following question: Do you support a policy to allow unauthorized immigrants who are here already to stay legally if they meet certain standards, such as having no criminal record? 58% said yes while only 33% said no. Of course, that’s deportation only for those with no other criminal record, so Americans tend to be a bit more kind hearted. But that response appears to represent some sort of discontinuity from the other, related immigration answers.

Only 35% wanted to increase legal immigration levels while 52% supported decreasing the numbers coming in. 64% support deporting any illegals with a criminal record and 59% favored the creation or expansion of a deportation force as Trump has discussed. 78% are in favor of local/federal cooperation (read: they oppose sanctuary cities), 69% want to deport visa overtays and only 35% support additional executive action on immigration such as Obama has engaged in.


If you take out the “deport every illegal” numbers, Trump is sitting pretty on the immigration issue. Considering that immigration is generally viewed as part of the national security question this is going to carry some weight. 21% rank security as their key issue in the election, placing behind only the economy which still comes in at 35%. (The next closest is Medicare / Social Security at 14%.)

As always, I’ll remind you that I’ve been treating Morning Consult as more of a trends tracker than an iron-clad snapshot because of its large, consistent sample size, but the trends have been steady for a while now. Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bounce was temporary and the tide has been slowly shifting in Trump’s favor for a full month. If anyone tells you that this race is over and Hillary Clinton is winning in a landslide, exercise caution if they try to sell you a bridge.


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