Is Trump even worse off than the polls suggest?

I think maybe.  First, though it appears that, for now, Trump has arrested his declining poll numbers, they seem to have stabilized him well behind Hillary Clinton and with her hitting 50% in many polls.  Andrew Prokop warns of a potential poll death spiral, which, in Trump’s case, remains a real possibility:

Polls can play two roles in a campaign. One is as a reflection of the electoral reality. The other, less common role is as a driver of the electoral reality. In Trump’s case, the recent spate of bad polls might be doing exactly that — changing the context in which Trump operates, as opposed to simply describing it.

Specifically, these polls could be driving more and more Republicans to abandon a Trump campaign that looks increasingly like a sinking ship.

That newfound spectacle of increasing GOP defections from Trump then helps advance the Clinton campaign’s narrative that he’s a candidate who is not like ordinary Republicans — that he’s deeply unusual in some scary ways.

And if more voters are convinced by that argument, Trump’s support among the electorate will continue to decline, and his bad polls will get even worse.

Yep.  Most Republican voters will stick with Trump to the end.  But I still think the more it becomes a consensus that he will lose, the more that perpetuates a cycle making him more like to, in fact, lose.

In starting his Votamatic, Drew Linzer writes:

(Sneak preview: Other election forecasters are giving Hillary Clinton around an 80-85% chance of winning. My interpretation of the polling data and other historical factors makes me a little less confident in a Clinton victory, but not much so; I’ll have more to say on this soon. Either way, the election is still far from a done deal. Flip a coin twice: if you get two heads, that’s President Trump.)

But you know what the polling and historical data lack?  Any information on what a phenomenally bad Trump “maybe those 2nd amendment people,” etc., has turned out to be.  This is why, I think Stuart Rothenberg’s conclusion is more compelling:

But a dispassionate examination of the data, combined with a coldblooded look at the candidates, the campaigns and presidential elections, produces only one possible conclusion: Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump in November, and the margin isn’t likely to be as close as Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

Now, the headline says it will take a miracle for Trump to win.  No, I don’t think it is that unlikely.  But Trump is not just any candidate trailing by 8 points in the polling averages in mid-August.  He is a candidate who is deeply divisive within his own party and, more importantly, seems constitutionally incapable of running the kind of sane, conventional campaign that actually wins general elections.

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

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