Polls suggest Clinton-Trump race tightening

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A slew of new polls released on Wednesday indicate a tightening race for the White House and suggest Donald Trump is closing the gap with Hillary Clinton in several swing states.

{mosads}An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found the two tied in Ohio with each getting 39 percent. In Iowa, it showed Clinton with a three-point lead, outpacing Trump 42 percent to 39 percent.

In Pennsylvania, the NBC poll found Clinton holding a larger, nine-point lead in a must-win state for Trump, but a different poll released earlier on Wednesday from Quinnipiac University showed Trump with a two-point lead. 

Quinnipiac also had Trump up by three points in Florida, a significant change from its poll of a month ago that represented a double-digit uptick for the Republican.

Both polls had the two tied in Ohio. Many believe the state is a must-win for Trump, given the fact that no Republican candidate has ever won the White House without winning the Buckeye State.

A third poll conducted by McClatchy/Marist showed Clinton with a three-point lead nationally, a slight drop from other recent polls.

While the totality of the polling suggest Clinton is still the favorite to get to 270 electoral votes, they also suggested she might have been hurt by the past week. 

Republicans see the closing gap as a result of the revelations from the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State, which they argue added to concerns voters hold about whether they trust Clinton.

FBI Director James Comey announced last week that he would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton, but called her actions “extremely careless” and contradicted her argument that she had not sent classified information through the private email.

“Hillary’s had a bad week, and Trump’s picked up some momentum going into the convention,” said John Feehery, a GOP operative who writes for The Hill.

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean thinks that the findings reinforce Americans’ convictions about Clinton and that the new poll numbers show that her campaign’s efforts to counter those misgivings have been ineffective.

“I think Hillary has a huge trust and honesty issue among Americans and the findings from the FBI director have had a huge impact on her nationwide and most likely these state polls are reflecting it,” he told The Hill in an interview Wednesday.

“Right now it looks like Hillary Clinton is wasting her money on these millions of dollars of ads that aren’t making a dent,” he added.

To be sure, there is evidence in polling that Clinton holds some advantages on Trump just a week before the Republican convention. 

Trump is tremendously popular among white male voters, the polls showed, but he has almost no support among black voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

As Journal reporter Neil King pointed out on Twitter, Trump has zero percent support among blacks in either Ohio or Pennsylvania, according to the NBC/WSJ/Marist poll. That could make it difficult to win what appear to be must-win states for him.

Clinton is also maintaining a four-point lead in Wisconsin, according to a Marquette University poll.

Trump’s path to success lies in convincing swing state voters, especially independents, that the election is a referendum on Clinton’s trustworthiness, said Ford O’Connell, a strategist who supports the presumptive GOP nominee.

“He’s doing extremely well with independents, and if he can keep that going, he’s in great shape because what I think a lot of people misperceive about independents, they are not necessarily moderate voters, they are Republicans and Democrats who both think that the parties have left them behind,” O’Connell said. 

“And what he has to do if he wants to capitalize on that is find a way to get in the driver’s seat and essentially make this a referendum, not on himself which is what Hillary’s done so far but make it on her or what they perceive is a rigged system.”

Quinnipiac’s numbers provided the best polling news for Trump, but some people in both parties questioned those figures. 

“There is no reason for Trump to have an 11-point swing in Florida in a month. No reason whatsoever, so I would really consider the Quinnipiac poll an outlier and would be very hesitant to seriously analyze it,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, an opponent of Trump.

“For as much of a mess as Florida can be, it is a remarkably consistent state. There just isn’t 10-12 points of movement here,” added Democratic operative Steve Schale in a widely discussed blog post Wednesday.

Schale noted that the university’s Florida polling in 2012 was also wildly erratic, while Real Clear Politics’ average of the polls stayed within a .3 percent margin.

Jim Manley, a Democratic operative backing Clinton, thinks that it’s also too early to put much stock in battleground state polls.

“I think they should feel pretty good, without sounding overconfident, about where they are overall,” Manley said of the Clinton campaign. “A lot of polls out there, some are more reputable than others, most are giving her a lead, the question is by how many points?”

“I’m not so sure what the state polls mean right now. In September or October they might mean a lot more than they do right now,” he said.

Feehery emphasized that the election is going to come down to those battleground states. 

“The electoral college is not a national election,” he said.

Lisa Hagen contributed to this story.



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