Another week ticks away on the countdown clock and another round of polling from Morning Consult finds Donald Trump’s previously stalled momentum creeping back into motion. For the first time since the conventions at the end of July, this survey shows trump with a slight edge over Clinton among likely voters when all four of the measured candidates are offered as options.
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 1 percentage point among likely voters who were polled a few days ahead of the much-anticipated debate between the two presidential candidates. The debate will take place Monday evening.
The ratings for the televised match-up between the two candidates are expected to be at record highs. Two-thirds of registered voters say they expect to watch the debate, with 41 percent saying they are “very likely” to watch it.
In a nationwide poll of 1,712 likely voters taken Sept. 22 through Sept. 24, Trump was the choice for 39 percent of respondents, while Clinton was the choice for 38 percent. The difference between the two candidates is within the margin of error.
Here’s the track of the four way race over the past few weeks.
If you take Johnson and Stein out of the equation Clinton edges back into the lead, 44-42. In the broader sample of registered voters Clinton holds a one point lead.
The mix of participants in the likely voter sample has once again taken a strange shift, but in an unexpected direction. You may recall that in last week’s survey, Hillary Clinton was hanging on to a one or two point lead for the second week in a row, but at that time the likely voter D/I/R split without leaners was 39/29/32. In this week’s crosstabs there’s been a dramatic shift. This time, again without leaners, the D/I/R is somehow 36/32/32. The Democratic advantage in the survey dropped from D+7 to D+4. And with that shift, Trump dropped one point from the previous week while Hillary went down by four. (The two third party candidates picked up one each to make up for part of that dip.) When you take the sample shift into account it almost looks as if there was no real movement at all.
In other words, taking MC’s running survey as a trend indicator, Trump has held on to the ground he made up after Clinton’s post-convention bump, but neither of them has broken out for any open field running yet. Tomorrow night will be their big opportunity to put some gas in the tank as we weather the first debate, and that’s the last topic I wanted to touch on from the survey. Right now we’re down to the point where the parties have largely retreated to their respective corners and the candidates are slugging it out for the independent and undecided voters. But those are precisely the people who are least likely to watch.
Independent voters have a less strong opinion about the debates, suggesting that the TV events be more important in terms of shoring up commitment from party affiliates than winning over undecided voters. Independents are less likely to watch Monday’s debate than either Republicans or Democrats; 54 percent of independents say they expect to watch, while 75 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats plan to tune in.
Twice as many independents (25 percent) say they are “not at all likely” to watch Monday’s debate than Republicans (13 percent) or Democrats (12 percent).
Tucking this poll away along with the rest of the national surveys, one thing is clear. The national race is a coin toss at this point. In the swing states, Trump his picking up a lot of lost territory, but he’s nowhere near being safely past 270 electoral votes. This thing is entirely up for grabs right now, and if you ever wished to live to see interesting times, soak it all in because this is it, baby.