HUFFPOLLSTER: Hillary Clinton’s Biggest Problem Could Be Voter Turnout

The FBI news isn’t changing opinions of her, but it could be dampening enthusiasm at a critical time in the campaign.

The latest controversy over Clinton’s emails isn’t changing minds, but could cost her turnout. Several key Senate races look closer than ever. And Donald Trump is contesting how much money he owes his pollster. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, November 1, 2016.

FBI STORY CHANGED FEW MINDS ABOUT CLINTON - HuffPollster: “Most Americans see the ongoing saga over Hillary Clinton’s emails as a serious problem, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, but very few think the latest chapter sheds any new light on the Democratic nominee….Views of both candidates are mostly baked in, and split largely along party lines. The FBI’s announcement ― especially given how much it is lacking in concrete detail ― seems to be functioning as a kind of political inkblot test, with Americans reading into it whatever they were already inclined to believe beforehand. Republicans may be increasingly dubious about Clinton’s ethics, but most were never at any risk of voting for her, either. Accordingly, Americans are strikingly unlikely to say that the story has changed their mind about Clinton. Just 5 percent say the latest development tells them anything new about Clinton, while 52 percent say it confirms what they already thought of her, and 34 percent that it doesn’t have much effect on their opinion of her.” [HuffPost]

Clinton’s biggest problem isn’t voters switching ― it’s voters turning out - Jim Newell: “[Democratic pollster Peter] Hart’s not especially concerned about voters switching their preference after the Friday news. (Voters rarely switch their preferences, despite what the fluctuating polls might indicate.)... The email revelations, in other words, don’t suddenly give a large bloc of voters sudden reason to believe that Trump would be a masterful steward of the nuclear arsenal. ‘Somehow people have to say, ‘I like the guy,’ or, ‘I think he’s right,’ more than saying, ‘Boy I’ve become more questionable about Hillary Clinton,’’ he said.... What concerns Hart more is dampened turnout from soft Clinton supporters—and Sanders voters, specifically…. Sanders voters, especially young voters, view Clinton as dishonest and untrustworthy, and they’re not as likely to turn out. They may see this latest news and ‘then end up saying: ‘I never really liked Clinton anyway, and I certainly don’t want Trump. I’m just not gonna vote,’’ Hart explained.” [Slate]

The latest ABC/Washington Post tracking poll supports those fears - Gary Langer: “Strong enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton has ebbed since the renewal of the FBI’s email investigation. While vote preferences have held essentially steady, she’s now a slim point behind Donald Trump ― a first since May ― in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Forty-six percent of likely voters support Trump in the latest results, with 45 percent for Clinton. Taking it to the decimal for illustrative purposes, a mere .7 of a percentage point divides them…. Trump now leads Clinton by 8 points in the share of voters who are very enthusiastic about their choice as of Friday…. Strong enthusiasm for Clinton has lost 7 points since the start of tracking, especially Friday through Sunday. This is possibly an after-effect of the renewed controversy over her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Trump’s strong enthusiasm has held steady in tracking, which started Oct. 20.” [ABC]

Another poll shows the race holding steady - Hannah Hartig, John Lapinski and Stephanie Psyllos: “The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll showed Clinton with a 6-point lead over Trump in the days prior to the Comey news. When looking at the data for Saturday and Sunday only, her lead remained the same — 47 percent to Trump’s 41 percent. The poll was conducted online from October 24 through October 30. Questions about Comey’s announcement were included on October 29 and October 30. Results for the entire week of the tracking poll show that in a four-way match-up, Clinton enjoys 47 percent support among likely voters, while Trump holds onto 41 percent support. Gary Johnson drops a single point to 6 percent support, and Jill Stein has 3 percent support. In a two-way race, Clinton enjoys a 7-point lead over Trump, with 51 percent support compared to Trump’s 44 percent.” [NBC]

In the aggregate, Clinton’s lead is slipping a little - The HuffPost Pollster chart shows Clinton still leading Trump by 6 points, down from nearly 8 points a week ago. Most of that change is Trump gaining in the polls, a pattern that started before the FBI news last Friday. When third party candidates are included in the polls, Clinton leads by just under 6 points in the HuffPost Pollster chart, also a slight decrease from last week due to Trump gaining about 1 percentage point on average. [Two-way chart, Three-way chart]

October surprises from recent elections haven’t had big effects - Harry Enten: “[T]he real surprise would be a wild swing in the polls. That’s because even the most memorable October surprises of recent history weren’t the game-changers they’re sometimes portrayed to be. There’s no official list of October surprises, a term that is loosely defined, but I chose six events from past campaigns that would seem to meet the definition, using the benefit of hindsight…. All told, these surprises moved the polls — from the week before to the final week — about 1 or 2 percentage points, on average. None of the surprises on this list moved the polls by more than 2 points. Again, this isn’t a full list, but it makes sense that late campaign news would have a limited impact. The later in a campaign an external shock occurs, the more voters have already made up their mind and the more impressions of the candidates are fixed. October surprises, in other words, may have less of an effect because they come in October.” [538]

FORECAST UPDATE - HuffPost’s models give Hillary Clinton a 98.1 percent chance of winning the presidency. Democrats have a 46 percent chance of winning the Senate outright, and Republicans a 19 percent chance of holding on, with a 35 percent chance of a tie that would be decided by the winning vice presidential candidate. [Presidential forecast, Senate forecast]

Poll shows a tied Senate race in Indiana - Monmouth University: “It no longer looks like Democrats can count on Indiana for an easy ‘plus one’ in their bid to take control of the U.S. Senate, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Republican Todd Young has erased former senator Evan Bayh’s early advantage to pull into a tie for Senate. Young’s campaign gets an assist from the top of the ticket where Donald Trump now holds an 11 point lead over Hillary Clinton for president….The poll was conducted from Thursday through Sunday, but voters interviewed after news broke on Friday about the FBI investigating new emails during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State were asked about the impact of that news. A total of 4% of Indiana voters say this news caused them to change their mind about which candidate they would support. Another 85% said these latest developments ultimately has had no impact on their vote and 9% are unaware of the news.” The survey is the first tracked by HuffPost Pollster not to show Bayh ahead by at least a slim margin, although polling data on the race has been generally scarce. Pollster’s average still gives Bayh a 6-point lead. [Monmouth, Indiana chart]

Another survey finds a close Senate race in New Hampshire - University of New Hampshire: “This race has been very close for more than a year and looks to remain close until election day. If the 2016 Senate election was held today, 44% of likely general election voters say they would vote for Maggie Hassan, 43% would vote for Kelly Ayotte, 3% would vote for someone else, and 11% are undecided. After including undecided voters who have indicated the candidate to whom they are leaning toward, the percentages become 46% for Hassan, 44% for Ayotte, 3% for someone else, and 8% remain undecided. Support for Ayotte has improved since earlier this month.” Polls released in October have varied widely, from a 9-point Hassan lead in UNH/WMUR’s previous survey to a 6-point Ayotte lead from Suffolk and the Boston Globe. The pollster average gives Hassan an edge of just over 1 point. [UNH, New Hampshire chart]

DONALD TRUMP OWES HIS POLLSTER THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILLION DOLLARS - Matea Gold: “Donald Trump’s hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation. But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign’s latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio’s firm says it is still owed for polling….Despite his issues with Fabrizio, Trump appears to have warmed up to pollsters in general. Since late August, the GOP nominee has tapped four other polling firms to conduct voter surveys, including Conway’s, which has been paid $673,000 through Oct. 19, filings show.” [WashPost]

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

-Nate Cohn expects another swing in the polls, but not necessarily a shift in the race. [NYT]

-Lydia Saad notes that voters ― as usual ― consider the current election more important than most. [Gallup]

-Kathy Frankovic looks at voters’ words for describing each candidate. [YouGov]

-Ali Valenzuela and Melissa Michelson report on experiments about mobilizing Latino voters to turn out. [Latino Decisions]

-Farai Chideya profiles Mexican-American voters in Arizona. [538]

-Every political reporter’s campaign tech article ever. [Medium]

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