HUFFPOLLSTER: Donald Trump Might Be Gaining Support Among Republican Voters

But he still trails Hillary Clinton in every national poll.

Donald Trump is starting to recover support among Republicans, according to one poll. Voters seem to be willing to split their ticket when voting for president and Senate. And opposing gay marriage is increasingly a political liability. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, August 25, 2016.

TRUMP BEGINS TO REBOUND AMONG REPUBLICANS - Kathy Frankovic: “With two well-known (and generally disliked) presidential candidates, changes in voting support are likely to come only slowly and incrementally.  And the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, though suggesting an upwards tick for Republican Donald Trump, underscores this point, with some of the positive changes coming mostly from his supporters. Last week, nearly half of Trump’s supporters characterized their vote for him as being one that was being cast against Democrat Hillary Clinton, and not one that was mostly for him. This week, Trump’s voters clearly feel better about him: six in ten say they are voting for the New York businessman. Political independents who are supporting Trump are more likely to say they are mainly voting against Clinton...Trump has picked up support from Republicans, something he needed to do. Last week, just 75% of Republicans said they would support their party’s nominee. This week, 84% say they will vote for Trump, about the same percentage as Democrats who say they will support Clinton.” [YouGov]

NORTH CAROLINA STILL LOOKS LIKE A TRUE BATTLEGROUND STATE - Two new polls in North Carolina show Clinton and Trump running very close. A CNN/ORC poll indicates Clinton is leading by 1 point, and a Monmouth University poll gives her a 2-point lead. Clinton leads by 3 points in the HuffPost Pollster average, driven by a large lead in prior polls. The Senate race between Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Deborah Ross is also tight, although the incumbent Sen. Burr seems to have the edge. The CNN/ORC poll has Burr up by 5 points, and Monmouth puts him up by 2 points. The HuffPost Pollster average shows him leading by 3 points.   

Senate candidates are running ahead of Trump in many races - The North Carolina Senate race is one example of a Republican candidate running ahead of the party’s presidential candidate in the state. That indicates that voters are willing to say they’ll split between voting for a Republican for Senate, and voting for someone else for president. Whether they do that in the voting booth is unknown. Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden charted the differences in presidential and Senate race polling.

OPPOSING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS NOW A POLITICAL LIABILITY - Betsy Cooper, Daniel Cox, Rachel Lienesch and Robert P. Jones: “Today, more than six in ten (62%) Americans say they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to just three in ten (30%) who say they are opposed. Support for same-sex marriage has increased rapidly in recent years….Americans are also less likely today to see a conflict between same-sex marriage and their own religious beliefs. Today, only about four in ten (41%) Americans say same-sex marriage goes against their religious beliefs, down from 51% in 2013 and 62% in 2003….Consistent with the shifts in public opinion, opposition to same-sex marriage has become a potential liability for political candidates. A plurality (44%) of Americans say they would definitely not vote for a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage. Another 22% say they would consider voting for such a candidate, but with reservations. Only one in five (20%) Americans say they would definitely vote for such a candidate.” [PRRI]

“When we’ve asked in previous polls for Americans to rank the importance of various issues for their vote, issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, these kinds of classic culture war issues, always rank toward the bottom....Having said that, these issues have obviously functioned historically, particularly in the Republican Party, as symbolic,” PRRI’s CEO, Robert P. Jones, said Wednesday in a call with reporters. “What I think this poll shows is that even among Republicans, these issues are really losing their power as a culture war wedge issue...Among Democrats, it is much more becoming almost a litmus test issue.”

THERE’S NO EVIDENCE THAT TRUMP IS ATTRACTING MORE PEOPLE TO RALLIES - HuffPollster: “Donald Trump’s surrogates might want to stop pointing to the crowds he attracts as proof that he isn’t running behind Hillary Clinton…. To put this year’s crowd photos into perspective, we asked Americans in a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll whether they’d been to any rallies in 2016. We found out two things: Only a small percentage had, and even by that metric, Trump wasn’t clearly ahead. Just 8 percent said they’d been to an event for Clinton, only 6 percent said they’d been to an event for Trump, and 3 percent said they’d attended an event in support of another presidential candidate…. And even those numbers probably constitute an overly generous measure of how many Americans are taking part in political activities. People like to think of themselves as politically aware, which can lead them to overstate how active they actually are.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER TURNS TO POLL TRUTHERISM - Igor Bobic: “Polling on the 2016 presidential race undercounts secret Donald Trump voters, the businessman’s newly minted campaign manager argued this week during an interview with the U.K.’s Channel 4. Kellyanne Conway, a respected pollster with decades of experience in Republican politics, dismissed polls showing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton comfortably in the lead by claiming they ‘cherry-picked polling numbers that are put out there by media outlets that are also bent on his destruction.’ ‘Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election,’ Conway maintained in the interview that aired Wednesday….Of the most recent 20 surveys of the race, not a single one shows him ahead....as HuffPost’s Sam Stein and Ariel Edwards-Levy reported earlier this month, pollsters for both parties say there is little evidence to suggest that Trump voters are being seriously undercounted.” [HuffPost]

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

-Frank Newport finds no evidence of increasing anti-immigration sentiment. [Gallup]

-Reuters launches a new polling simulator. [Reuters, more from CJR]

-David Wasserman digs into claims that Republicans are gaining substantial numbers of new voter registrations. [538]

-Michael Lipka profiles Americans who don’t identify with any religious group. [Pew]

-The future of the CBS/New York Times poll looks uncertain. [Politico]