In ain’t over, but…

things are sure looking good for Hillary Clinton.

Nate Cohn on the latest polls.  This, to me, is the key bit:

Part of the reason Mrs. Clinton’s bounce seems more likely to last is that it seems to be coming from greater party unity: growing support from Bernie Sanders’s backers. The Marist poll showed Mrs. Clinton with the support of 90 percent of his voters, while a CNN poll gave her 91 percent. These numbers had usually been in the 60s or 70s.

That’s a pretty damn unified Democratic party.  Republicans are nowhere close.  Even if they closet that gap and more Republicans fall in line, these are the kinds of numbers with which Hillary Clinton wins the election.  And, there’s little reason to think the Democrats she’s won over will be abandoning her.

Mrs. Clinton’s support appears to be underpinned by her improving image among Democratic-leaning voters, according to Gallup data. She could still lose some of those voters to third-party candidates, but Mr. Trump faces similar risks.

 These gains have allowed Mrs. Clinton to move up to around 47 or 48 percent of the vote in recent polls. This is not an especially impressive tally, but for that same reason it seems reasonable to expect she could keep it: She’s not winning the support of a huge number of voters whom you would expect to abandon her.

At the same time, the unusually large number of voters considering a third-party candidate make Mrs. Clinton’s tallies seem likelier to be enough to win…

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, faces the opposite issue. His support has plummeted: In fact, he didn’t even breach 40 percent in any of the national surveys that were released on Wednesday or Thursday…

Polls conducted a few weeks after the conventions have proved to begenerally accurate. They’re not perfect, but no modern presidential candidate who has trailed a few weeks after the conventions has gone on to win the popular vote. Mr. Trump is in serious danger of needing to be the first candidate to pull it off — with more baggage weighing him down, for good measure.

And Harry Enten on the persistence of Clinton’s post-convention bounce:

Hillary Clinton’s polling surge is showing no signs of fading. She leads Donald Trump, on average, by about 7 percentage points in national polls, and is an 83-percent favorite to win on Nov. 8, according to our polls-only model. Our polls-plus model — which accounts for the “fundamentals,” as well as the tendency for a candidate’s numbers to temporarily rise after his or her convention — gives her a 76 percent chance. Those are her largest advantages since we launched our election forecasts back in June.

Yes, her bounce could still very well fade.  But now there’s a lot of room to fade and still be in the lead.

Importantly, the media dynamic is very much against Trump.  And I don’t mean media bias, but the templates that reporters use to cover elections are such that all the Republican criticism against Trump represents a huge problem.  Jonathan Bernstein:

In a normal election when both parties are united behind their nominee, voters will hear one message for months: that people like themselves, including the politicians they like, are supporting one candidate, while people they normally dislike or disagree with are backing the other one. Whether voters consider themselves partisans or not, that message pushes them in the “correct” direction — to the candidate of the party they normally support.

Conventions are especially powerful in sending such signals because they dominate the news for a few days at least, drowning out the voices of the opposing party.  Even after the convention, that message can be strong — if the party is united, that is.

The muddier things are, however, the less likely voters will be pushed in the “correct” direction.

This is probably a big part of what has given Clinton a solid lead in the polls right now. The Democrats are united and sound united, while Republicans clearly are not.

When something goes wrong for Clinton, most highly visible Democrats will speak out in support or keep their mouths shut. By contrast, when something goes wrong for Donald Trump, Republican responses are all over the place, with many condemning whatever it is he said. 

And the media’s preference for man-bites-dog over dog-bites-man stories means that the news about a Republican operative endorsing Clinton will receive far more coverage than dozens of Republican elected officials endorsing Trump. [emphasis mine]

Yes!  This is important stuff.  And there’s really no reason to see this dynamic to change.  At this point it is hard to see what causes Democrats to abandon Clinton.  And, I believe that the longer and more consistently Trump trails in the polls and looks to be the likely loser the more and higher profile Republican defections we’ll get, heightening this already negative dynamic for Trump.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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