A bounce to last?

My wife keeps reminding me that I repeatedly told her that its a volatile time in polling and not to make too much out of polls until a few more weeks.  Good caveat.  That said, we shouldn’t ignore the information in the latest polls.  And, for one, Hillary getting a substantially larger bounce than Trump is a good thing, anyway you look at it.

Nate Cohn makes the case that it is not just the size of the bounce, but the nature of what’s behind it, that really matters:

Convention bounces often prove to be short-lived, as the name implies and as Mr. Trump’s experience proves. Often, post-convention bounces don’t even reflect real changes in support — just changes in how likely people are to respond to a poll or to indicate their support for a candidate.

With that history in mind, Mrs. Clinton’s lead would be expected to fade a bit over the next few weeks. But her comfortable advantage in the post-convention polls suggests that her support can fade and that she can still maintain a clear lead. [emphases mine]

There are also reasons to think that Mrs. Clinton’s bounce is likelier to stick than most. In general, convention bounces are most durable when they help unify the parties — something that’s largely inevitable and hard to undo…
The latest CNN poll, which showed Mrs. Clinton ahead by nine points, suggests that she made her biggest gains among friendly groups, like young voters, supporters of Bernie Sanders and nonwhite voters. These gains could prove relatively durable

The polls now put Mrs. Clinton a bit ahead of the level she held before James Comey, the F.B.I. director, excoriated her for her use of a private email server. She held a similar lead in April — before Mr. Trump won the nomination in May and narrowed her lead for the month or so that followed. This has been the race’s natural resting place when there hasn’t been something else suppressing Mrs. Clinton’s support — another reason to think she might be able to retain most of her bounce.

For Mr. Trump, the danger is that he has few opportunities to prevent Mrs. Clinton from further consolidating her support over the coming weeks.
But, chances are we’ll really know in a few weeks:

If Mrs. Clinton retains most of her gains over the coming weeks, Mr. Trump’s chances in the race will start to look fairly bleak. Surveys conducted a few weeks after the conventions are far more predictive of the result than those taken ahead of or during the conventions.

No modern presidential candidate who trailed in the polls a few weeks after the conventions has gone on to win the popular vote.

Honestly, at this point, with Trump continuing to be Trump, I would be quite surprised if Clinton does not still have a lead of 4-5 points in a couple weeks.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to A bounce to last?

  1. ohwilleke says:

    The biggest hope for Trump in my mind is that some of the recent polls are showing that as many as a third of Republicans do not support Trump. Many of them also do not support Clinton and as election day closes in, they may calm down and vote their party while holding their noses. Clinton has no similar reservoir for a late boost to her polling.

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