Swing State Polls: All Tied Up in Battlegrounds, Including...Texas?

Guy Benson
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Posted: Sep 06, 2016 1:06 PM
Swing State Polls: All Tied Up in Battlegrounds, Including...Texas?

We'll circle back to the eye-catching CNN poll Katie wrote about earlier, but first, here are the results of a -- shall we say -- questionable online survey of a slew of swing states (and non-swing states), via the Washington Post and Survey Monkey. Some of these numbers would appear more credible if the absence of others. It's not hard to spot some of the more glaring problems:

The same batch of data has Trump up three in Ohio, tied in North Carolina, tied in Georgia, and clinging to a two-point lead in Mississippi.  Feel free to read all about this massive poll of 75,000 voters across all 50 states here, but basic common sense dictates that if Trump is really leading in Ohio, and has closed a wide gap in places like Wisconsin and Colorado, he is...not trailing by a point in Texas.  That's not possible and it doesn't remotely align with other evidence.  Conversely, if he's genuinely battling Hillary Clinton to an approximate draw in Mississippi and is in danger of dropping Arizona and Georgia, he cannot be competitive in Michigan and Florida.  There are data points in this poll that point to a very competitive race in which Donald Trump may be able to pull out a win (although its results out of Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia present significant hurdles). There are also some data points that suggest Hillary Clinton is on the brink of a blowout victory.  Because of these conflicting indicators and outliers, I'd take this set of numbers with a large block of salt.  Here's Jim Geraghty's 'caveat emptor' warning, with an emphasis on methodology.

Now, about that CNN poll. Katie ran through the basics this morning, underscoring the astonishing reversal of fortunes for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Having trailed badly in this series after the DNC, Trump has now jumped ahead by a single point among likely voters -- and two points in the four-way polling.  Democrats are crying foul that the poll has a partisan sample of R+4, which does seem unlikely, but these same people have more than happily embraced and trumpeted other survey results rooted in very heavily Democratic samples.  Gotta roll with the punches.  One of the key findings of the poll is that although both Trump and Clinton are dominating among their own parties' respective bases, Trump voters are more enthusiastic to turn out than hers are:

Ben Shapiro writes that unlike other "good" polls for Trump, in which his support remained static as Hillary's dropped, the new CNN survey actually shows him gaining.  This marks a truly significant development if it's also measured in additional polling moving forward:

Trump’s favorability ratings are higher than Clinton’s (45 percent to 42 percent); fully 16 percent of Americans label immigration their top concern in the election (only 20 percent say the economy); Trump crushes Hillary on the economy, 56 percent to 41 percent; he’s seen as more trustworthy by 50 percent of the public, as opposed to 35 percent for Clinton; he’s seen as more strong and decisive than she is by a margin of 50 percent to 42 percent; the male gender gap is worse for Hillary (52 to 32 for Trump) than the female gender gape [sic] is good for her (52 percent to 38 percent); Trump’s defeating Hillary among independents by a whopping 20 percent. These are devastating numbers for Hillary.

Again, let's wait for the outlier vs. trend test results to come in, but there are more than enough worrisome nuggets within the CNN poll to keep Team Clinton awake at night.  The overall movement of the race seems undeniable: The RCP average has closed to just over three points in a two-way race, and less than two-and-a-half points in the four-way.  The bottom line is that Donald Trump's on-script, TelePrompter-aided shift into relative normalcy has been successful.  The Mexico foray was smart and worked for him.  And the relentless drip, drip, drip of Hillary Clinton's corrupt lying getting systematically exposed is really hurting her.  As I've been saying for weeks, Trump's biggest problem is that a significant majority of voters continue view him as unqualified for the job, both on knowledge and temperament.  His best opportunity to precipitate a paradigm shift on those fronts is at the opening debate at the end of this month.  If he's able to beat expectations and come across as fairly credible and prepared, the game really could change.  Which is why those rooting for him ought to be disquieted by this:

Is this a sly head fake, or the squandering of a crucial chance? Clever psych ops, or foolish hubris?  Either way, perhaps Hillary's campaign might want to reconsider its recently-leaked "run out the clock" strategy.  I'll leave you with CBS News' fresh polling from over the weekend, for what it's worth: