Polls Can’t Keep Up With Ever-Changing Campaign
In the time span of about 15 days, we’ve witnessed more events that changed this campaign than just about anything up to this point. It all started back on September 26th with the first debate between Trump and Clinton, and then seems to have snowballed from there.
Following the first presidential debate, which drew mixed reviews, though generally is though to have given Hillary a boost, was the Vice Presidential debate on October 4th. The VP debate went well for Mike Pence and the Trump campaign had much to celebrate heading into the rest of that week and getting ready for the second Trump/Clinton battle.
However, then came Friday, October 7th, and the infamous Trump “locker room talk” tape. By Saturday, the campaign was reeling from this bombshell with some Republicans withdrawing their endorsement and others calling for Trump to exit the race entirely. Trump’s reaction to this, naturally, was to double-down and swear he would never quit the race because he didn’t want to disappoint his supporters.
Then came the second debate on Sunday, October 9th. Earlier in the day on Sunday, hours before the debate, Trump held an impromptu press conference with four women from Bill and Hillary Clinton’s past, all involving sexual assault or allegations of some kind. This set the stage for what would be one of the most fiery and wild presidential debates we’ve seen in modern times.
Depending on your perspective, Trump either revived his campaign by going on the offensive, or Hillary handled herself in the face of extreme attacks and came out unscathed. The post-debate polls were split on this one, with the some seeing a Hillary victory, and others seeing more of a “tie.”
Here’s a condensed timeline:
Monday, Sept. 26 – First Presidential Debate
Tuesday, Oct. 4 – VP Debate
Friday, Oct. 7 – Access Hollywood tape released
Sunday, Oct. 9 – Trump holds presser with Clinton accusers, second Presidential debate
All of this pushes a volatile polling model into a rabidly volatile polling model in steroids. Since not everyone lives at their keyboard pressing the “refresh” button waiting for new information to drop, it can take days before all these events are fully priced into the polls, especially at the state level.
By all accounts, it appears Trump lost ground after the first debate, and perhaps the VP debate helped to stop the bleeding. Then the tape was released heading into last weekend and the campaign literally blew up again. It’s safe to assume Trump will take a hit from the tape, but we don’t have the full effect of the debate and how that will play out when Trump went nuclear over Bill’s sexual escapades and Hillary’s treatment of his accusers.
One poll in particular taken after the tape was released but before the debate showed Hillary with significant improvement. From The Atlantic:
With less than a month to go until Election Day, Donald Trump’s standing has plummeted with likely voters, falling from a dead heat just two weeks ago to a double-digit deficit behind Hillary Clinton, according to a PRRI/The Atlantic poll released Tuesday.
Clinton holds a 49-38 lead over the Republican. Two weeks ago, a previous PRRI/Atlantic poll found Trump and Clinton tied at 43-43. Following the first presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, the Democrat broke out to a 47-41 lead. She has now built on that lead. [Emphasis added]
Keep in mind, this 11 point lead doesn’t factor in the second debate. So again, we’re still in the dark there.
However a more recent poll which came out minutes ago from Politico shows a far smaller lead for Hillary. Report on this from Politico:
Hillary Clinton won the second debate and leads Donald Trump by five points in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that also shows voters perceive the Republican Party bitterly divided four weeks before Election Day.
Clinton leads Trump in the four-way race for the presidency among likely voters, 42 percent to 37 percent, with Gary Johnson at 10 percent and Jill Stein at three percent. In the initial two-way ballot, Clinton’s lead is also five points, 46 percent to 41 percent. [Emphasis added]
This would give Hillary only a 5-point advantage which is close to where she was before the events of the past several days. More polls are bound to come out soon, but perhaps it’s safe to say that Trump may, and I emphasize may, have been able to stem the fallout from the tape with his debate performance on Sunday night.