Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trump and Clinton are now neck and neck in the polling.

The recent polling numbers. Via RealClearPolitics.

As you may know, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a statistical tie in election polling after months of Clinton dominating the field. For months and months, except for a few outlying polls, Clinton had a lead, often of 5 to 10 percentage points. That lead has largely evaporated. Though Clinton still leads in a few polls, the lead is often in the margin of errors and Trump has even gained the lead in a few cases now. 

So why has this happened?

1. Trump no longer had to compete with Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Cruz was hitting Trump very hard when he was still in the race. I am guessing having a fellow Republican and his supporters bashing him every day on national news hurt Trump's poll numbers a bit. With Cruz, and to a lesser extent Kasich, gone, Trump no longer has to protect his flanks from his own party. The feud between Trump and Cruz was especially bitter and didn't reflect well on either of the candidates, but with the issue resolved by Cruz dropping out, people are forgetting about it. 

2. The #neverTrump faction has completely failed to stop him. Even now, people are abandoning the movement and are grudgingly supporting Trump. Bill Kirstol's attempts to find a third party candidate to run against Trump have failed completely and only a few deluded supporters are clinging on to the idea. The party may still have some splits but the GOP is now unifying and rallying around Trump. Even people like Rand Paul, who Trump hit hard during the primaries, have endorsed Trump. Trump has essentially unified his party.

3. Hillary Clinton is in a difficult spot right now due to the fact that she hasn't managed to put Bernie Sanders away. Sanders is likely to keep in the race until the convention, so that is a couple of more months that Clinton will be facing attacks from her left as well as her right. She is going to be painted as both way too liberal and not liberal enough at the same time. While Trump has unified his party, Hillary Clinton is very far away from unifying hers, and at this point she may not be able to do so until the Democratic Convention, and even after that it's no sure thing.

4. Hillary Clinton is having legitimacy issues. While Trump wrapped up his nomination fair and square and will easily pass the 1237 number of delegates required to win, Clinton is heading to a much closer victory. Though I won't speculate on her final delegate numbers, I don't see her having a huge lead over Bernie Sanders, compared to what Trump has done in the GOP. She currently has about a 250 pledged delegate lead, which could possibly shrink before election day. Right now she's winning, but the election is mostly being decided by super delegates. This is feeding into the idea that the Democratic Party is not treating Bernie Sanders fairly. Though it's hard to blame Clinton for gathering support among the super delegates, it still makes her look like an insider in a year of outsiders. It also shows that the Democratic Party is having more trouble unifying under a candidate then the GOP has. 

5. Trump's attacks on Hillary Clinton are starting to have an effect. If you look at Trump's Twitter feed, you will see quite a few attacks on her. Right now he seems to be focused on her hypocrisy on gun rights, but he's also been hitting her on her husband, Bill Clinton. Clinton has been responding, but I have said in the past that Trump is way better at social media then she is.

6. Trump has been doing and saying all the right things to gain the support of the GOP base. Not only has he been trying the mend the fences with GOP leaders he is also spending a lot of time on GOP red meat issues. One of the #neverTrump complaints was that he wasn't a "true conservative" and would be weak on the issues. Trump has countered these complaints in part due to releasing his list of Supreme Court nominees, all of which are acceptable to most in the party. Given how many Justices are near retirement age, this will help Trump get support from GOP voters who may have been wary of him. Also important is his recent endorsement from the NRA. This was another issue that #neverTrump hit him on and it's clear now that their complaints were largely baseless. 

7. The presumed terrorist attack that took down the EgyptAir flight. Though the jury is still out on that case it still brought the issue of terrorism back into the limelight and may have had a small effect on the most recent of polls. Most of them were wrapping up by the 19th so only a few of the people polled had that information, but it still probably had an effect on those polls. Trump wins on terrorism because his solution of a temporary ban on Muslims would actually have an effect short term. Hillary Clinton's plan, is the same old thing we have heard since 9/11. More tolerance and understanding is needed for the people trying to kill us. Though Trump's plan is controversial, it is at least different and isn't a rehash of the same policies that haven't done much to stop the threat of terrorism. I said before that if a major terrorist attack were to happen, it would help Donald Trump, and that may have been the case here. 

I don't know how long term these poll results are. Indeed, much of the bounce seems to be from the fact that Trump has managed to unify his party while Hillary Clinton has not. I am convinced that she will be able to do so at some point, but by then it might be too late. This primary season may have created wounds so deep in the Democratic Party that they might not have fully healed by election day. 

Of course there is a lot that can happen to polling numbers between now and election day. My guess is that Trump is going to keep gaining a lead on Hillary Clinton. Though the factors I mentioned in this post were mostly temporary boosts that will probably go away after the convention, I still think that Clinton is a very weak candidate. Though it is very premature to call the race this early, I do think that she doesn't have much of a chance to win. These current poll numbers may be the turning point in the race where everyone else realizes that as well... 

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