HUFFPOLLSTER: Hillary Clinton Holds The Advantage In Tightening Race

Keep calm and look at the polling averages.

A new 50-state poll shows where Hillary Clinton is strong, including a few surprising results. But a new CNN/ORC national poll of likely voters has Donald Trump leading. The HuffPost Pollster aggregate still shows Clinton in the lead. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

CLINTON HAS THE ADVANTAGE 9 WEEKS TO ELECTION DAY - “August found Hillary Clinton in the Hamptons, where she attended at least a dozen high-dollar fundraisers, according to people who spent time with her there….With just over two months until Election Day, she holds a solid lead over Trump in the polls, although the spread has been tightening as Clinton’s post-convention bounce wears off and Trump gains a little strength. HuffPost Pollster’s model, which aggregates publicly available polling, currently gives her a lead of about 5 points in a head-to-head race nationally, down from more than 8 points at the height of her post-DNC bounce. Clinton also has a 5-point lead on average when third party candidates are included in the poll questions. A 5-point lead leaves room for Trump to catch up, but it’s still considerably wider than the edge President Barack Obama enjoyed over Mitt Romney at this point during the 2012 cycle. And Clinton’s lead has been remarkably consistent: Not a single poll included in HuffPost’s average has had Trump ahead since late July. Historical precedent suggests that bodes well for her. In each of the past 16 elections, the candidate leading after the conventions has gone on to win.” [HuffPost]

A new 50-state survey illustrates why Clinton is up - Dan Balz and Scott Clement: “With nine weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump is within striking distance in the Upper Midwest, but Hillary Clinton’s strength in many battlegrounds and some traditional Republican strongholds gives her a big electoral college advantage, according to a 50-state Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll....The state-by-state numbers are based on responses from more than 74,000 registered voters during the period of Aug. 9 to Sept. 1…. The massive survey highlights a critical weakness in Trump’s candidacy — an unprecedented deficit for a Republican among college-educated white voters, especially women….Trump is struggling in places Republicans have won consistently and that he must hold to have any hope of winning. These states include Arizona and Georgia, as well as Texas — the biggest surprise in the 50-state results. The Texas results, which are based on a sample of more than 5,000 people, show a dead heat, with Clinton ahead by one percentage point. Clinton also leads by fewer than four points in Colorado, Florida and is tied with Trump in North Carolina. In Colorado, other polls have shown a larger Clinton lead. In Mississippi, Trump’s lead is just two points, though it’s doubtful that the GOP nominee is in much danger there.” [WashPost]

A new kind of survey for The Washington Post - Scott Clement: “The Post-SurveyMonkey poll employed a ‘non-probability’ sample of respondents. While standard Washington Post surveys draw random samples of cellular and landline users to ensure every voter has a chance of being selected, the probability of any given voter being invited to a SurveyMonkey is unknown, and those who do not use the platform do not have a chance of being selected….The Post has generally avoided citing results from non-probability Internet-based surveys such as SurveyMonkey, as it is impossible to draw a random sample of Internet users, and random selection is a widely accepted standard in drawing representative samples of any population. As Internet-based surveys have proliferated, research has grown on the ability to make accurate population estimates from these non-probability samples. Several benchmarking studies have found that probability sample surveys produce smaller errors than samples from opt-in, non-probability surveys. But research has also found that some non-probability methods have been more accurate than others….Altogether, our review found SurveyMonkey estimates to be broadly in line with election results, other polling benchmarks and our own trusted cellular and landline phone surveys….The Post-SurveyMonkey survey gave The Post an opportunity to gauge political attitudes on a far greater scale than would have been financially and practically feasible using traditional, probability-based polling.” [WashPost]

Flashback to 2014 - With networks including NBC and CBS both using online, non-probability polling, the Washington Post’s decision no longer seems entirely radical. But when CBS, in partnership with The New York Times, released its first set of battleground polls conducted by the online nonprobability firm YouGov, it touched off a major controversy. (Full disclosure: The Huffington Post also conducts polls using YouGov.) The Washington Post’s Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement, two years ago: “A new state election polling collaboration between the New York Times, CBS News and Internet pollster YouGov has drawn an unusual public rebuke from the leading organization of survey researchers, adding fuel to a fiery debate over what makes a poll ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) criticized the Times and CBS for its state polling with YouGov, saying the survey methods used by the polls has ‘little grounding in theory’ and a lagging disclosure of methodological details required to assess the poll’s quality….The decision to sponsor non-probability Internet polling marks a stark shift in standards for the New York Times.” [WashPost, more from HuffPollster]

NEW CNN POLL SHOWS TRUMP LEADING AMONG LIKELY VOTERS - Jennifer Agiesta: “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton start the race to November 8 on essentially even ground, with Trump edging Clinton by a scant two points among likely voters, and the contest sparking sharp divisions along demographic lines in a new CNN/ORC Poll. Trump tops Clinton 45% to 43% in the new survey, with Libertarian Gary Johnson standing at 7% among likely voters in this poll and the Green Party’s Jill Stein at just 2%.... The poll follows several national polls in August suggesting that the margin between the two candidates had tightened following the conventions…. nearly half of voters say they are less enthusiastic about voting in this election than they have been in previous years, while just 42% say they’re more excited about this year’s contest.... The lack of enthusiasm spikes among Clinton supporters. A majority of Clinton’s supporters say they’re less excited about voting this year than usual (55%) while most of Trump’s backers say they’re more excited this time around (56%). That could be contributing to Trump’s slim advantage among likely voters. Among the broader pool of registered voters, Clinton edges Trump by 3 points.” [CNN]  

This is CNN’s first poll of “likely voters” - CNN’s previous poll at the end of July showed Clinton up by 9 points among registered voters. Not only was that poll taken at the height of Clinton’s post-convention bump, but it was of registered voters ― as opposed to the new one which reports results among likely voters. Pollsters that have reported registered voters typically begin estimating results among likely voters as the election approaches. As we wrote in 2014, “Polling experts know that polls of likely voters are more favorable to Republicans than polls of registered voters. The registered voters least likely to vote are often low-income voters, voters of color, urban dwellers or some combination thereof — all groups that tend to report Democratic preferences in polls, but that often indicate they are less likely to actually vote on Election Day.” That doesn’t mean all new polls will show Clinton losing support. Many polls already measured support among likely voters, and Clinton still leads on average even after including the CNN poll in the HuffPost Pollster average.  [HuffPost]

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TUESDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Nearly half of Americans have gotten into a fight over this year’s election. [HuffPost]

-Molly Redden writes that many married couples are divided by the presidential campaign. [Guardian]

-A new Latino Voices survey finds Hillary Clinton taking 70 percent of the Latino vote. [Mother Jones]

-Abby Phillip compares Clinton’s performance with Latinos against past Democratic nominees. [WashPost]

-Giovanni Russonello takes a closer look at Gary Johnson’s supporters. [NYT]

-Danielle Kurtzleben explains why people will continue to believe unsubstantiated rumors about Clinton’s health. [NPR]

- Catherine Allen-West and Ozan Kuru review how motivated reasoning can shape views of opinion polls. [Center for Political Studies]