Frontrunner: Despite Deep Unpopularity, Hillary Leads in New National and Battleground Polls

Posted: Jul 18, 2016 10:20 AM

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- Last week was a bad polling week for Hillary Clinton. Surveys that were in the field during intense media coverage of her historic email scandal rebuke at the hands of the FBI measured a clear drop in her head-to-head ballot support, as well as a spike in already-high negative opinions of her favorability and trustworthiness. But as Republican delegates gather here in the Buckeye State to kick off their presidential nominating convention, a flurry of new national and swing state polls make clear that in spite of her abiding unpopularity, Mrs. Clinton enjoys a clear advantage over Donald Trump as the general election officially begins:

At first blush, CNN's poll looked like the only outlier of the bunch, in that Hillary Clinton is just a point away from hitting 50 percent in direct competition with Trump.  She's nowhere near 50 in the polling average.  But when other options are listed in that survey, things revert to the norm -- she's up five points, with both major party presumptive nominees stuck between the high 30's the mid-to low-40's.  The NBC/WSJ poll is packed with worrisome numbers for Trump, as well as some less-than-pleasant ones for Hillary.  Just 38 percent of Republican-leaning respondents are satisfied with their nominee-in-waiting, his overall favorability rating is 33 points underwater, he's underperforming Mitt Romney among white voters, and his share of the Hispanic vote is roughly half of Romney's -- which was catastrophically bad to begin with.  Hillary's unfavorability is also ugly (-22), and a majority now say she lacks the judgment to be president, an obvious consequence of her email scandal.  In the Washington Post/ABC News poll, outright majorities of each candidate's backers say they are more motivated by opposition to the alternative than actual support for their preferred choice.  This just about sums up the state of play:

Battleground polling has been more divergent. On the heels of good numbers for Trump from Quinnipiac and decent data from NBC/Marist last week, NBC/WSJ's new poll shows Clinton pulling ahead by an average of eight points in 13 swing states. Proof that Clinton's superior organization and vast spending advantage (cough) is putting daylight between herself and her opponent?  Perhaps, but a fresh CBS/YouGov battleground survey shows an essentially tied race in 11 key states:

Pick your preferred poll, partisans.  I'll leave you with several bottom-line takeaways: First, Hillary Clinton is in a stronger position to defeat Trump than Barack Obama was to top Romney at this point in the race, four years ago.  Second, "Comey's dismantling kept Trump competitive. That matters. But for now, it hasn't changed Clinton's status as the favorite to win." Third:

Those outcomes are among all adults; they tighten slightly among registered voters. Finally, fourth -- and arguably most importantly -- there's this:

Parting thoughts: If, and it remains an if for now, a string of Islamist terrorist attacks and heinous police assassinations cannot help the 'build the wall/curtail immigration from terror hotspots/law and order' candidate break through, what possibly could? Or is Allahpundit (who mines a lot of extra tidbits from these polls, including this awful chart for Trump) right that the national mood is so volatile based on unsettling new events that polling may matter a lot less than usual this year?