Voters' pre-existing opinions of Hillary Clinton could play in her favor going up against Donald Trump. Trump is unlikely to flip blue states to red. And here's a friendly reminder not to freak out over individual polls. This is HuffPollster for Monday, May 9, 2016.
OPINIONS OF CLINTON ARE ALREADY WELL-ESTABLISHED - Sam Stein, with HuffPollster: “On the trail, [Hillary] Clinton touts the political battles she’s experienced as proof that she can succeed where Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted and Low Energy Jeb failed. The impression left is that she has the political acumen to navigate a race against [Donald] Trump. But what she is also underscoring is that she has the longevity to not be defined by her opponent….voters have studied her resume, and new parcels of information will simply be plugged into their preexisting views….In public opinion polls, a full 96 percent of the public is able to rate Clinton either unfavorably or favorably, the same percentage as Trump. By comparison, 86 percent of the public was able to rate Mitt Romney when he was the presumptive nominee in May of 2012. In July of 2015 — roughly when the Republican primary began — 67 percent of the public was able to rate Ted Cruz and 64 percent of the public was able to rate Marco Rubio….Since last June, her numbers have moved relatively little, considering all the campaigning and negative headlines.” [HuffPost]
COULD TRUMP REALLY TURN BLUE STATES RED? - Robert Tognetti: "Since 1992, 19 states have consistently gone to the Democratic candidate, while 13 states have consistently voted for the GOP. This coming election cycle, according to Cook Report, 19 states are considered safe for Republicans and 16 safe for Democrats….Trump wants to challenge those 16 safe states….But the changes might not be in the direction Trump wants…. Utah and Arizona are good examples. In a Dan Jones & Associates/UtahPolicy.com poll last month, Hillary Clinton and Trump were tied at 38 percent, and a recent Arizona survey by the Behavior Research Center showed Clinton up by 7 points. Both states have been Republican strongholds since the 1960s." [HuffPost]
DON'T OVERHYPE INDIVIDUAL POLLS- Ian Reifowitz: "Trump has been out there crowing about a new Rasmussen poll that shows him leading Secretary Clinton 41-39. The poll shows 15 percent voting for someone else, and 5 percent undecided….One poll can be wrong. A few polls can even be wrong, but the average of dozens of polls for a national election is highly, highly unlikely to be. [There are] about 50 [polls] in fact, measuring Clinton and Trump head to head since the beginning of March." [Daily Kos (D)]
With general election season just beginning, what HuffPollster wrote back in January still holds true:
BRITISH POLLSTER SEEING IMPROVEMENTS IN THE WAKE OF 2015 FAILURE - Anthony Wells: "A year ago the polls got the general election wrong. This week YouGov was the only company to carry out polls for all three of the London, Scottish and Welsh votes. Following both our own internal investigation and the British Polling Council enquiry, we have changed our sampling so as to more accurately reflect the make-up of the electorate. Based on the first real-time test of these new approaches that yesterday’s elections offered, it is clear that our new sampling methods have notably increased the accuracy of our results….Both our internal investigation and the British Polling Council’s inquiry into what went wrong found that the main problem with the 2015 polls was sampling. Polls simply interviewed the wrong people – the sort of people who took part in polls were too engaged, too interested in politics. Rather than just deal with the symptoms of that, we have addressed the cause: we have focused on recruiting people who pay less attention to politics onto our panel….On the basis of the results of the Scottish, Welsh and London elections, this new approach appears to be working well." [YouGov]
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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Nate Silver contests the notion that Donald Trump's supporters are working-class. 
-Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley review the state of the general election. [Politico]
-Quoctrung Bui profiles The Green Papers, a site created to explain primary delegate counts. [NYT]
-Residents of Chicago, especially black residents, are pessimistic about government institutions. [NYT]
-Six in ten Americans oppose laws that would restrict bathroom use for transgender people. [CNN]
-Australian polling averages show a slight advantage for the Coalition maintaining power in the 2016 election. [The Guardian]