Just a couple of weeks ago the big news was Donald Trump creeping up on -- and in a couple of surveys, leading -- Hillary Clinton in national general election polls. That was the result of Trump securing the title of “presumptive Republican nominee” and most Republican voters lining up behind him.
Now we’re at the beginning of the opposite trend. But as with the brief Trump bump, Clinton’s upward trend could be temporary. So don’t get carried away and declare Trump’s candidacy dead.
Trump’s spike in the polls turned out to be very short-lived. In the HuffPost Pollster average, he pulled within two points of Clinton for a few days in mid-May but began to decline again by the end of the month. Only a handful of polls ever showed him leading or tied with Clinton. Republican voters seem to have unified behind him, but others are clearly more malleable.
Clinton will get a bump now that she has become the presumptive Democratic nominee. She actually began to climb last week, before the AP officially gave her the presumptive title on Monday night, and currently leads Trump by more than 5 points on average. That’s an increase of 3 points within about 2 weeks -- which might not sound like much, but it’s enough that you’ll likely start seeing “Trump collapsing” headlines soon.
Trump’s decline could be due to struggling with his image -- again -- after disparaging a judge from Indiana for his Mexican heritage. His claim that the judge couldn’t be impartial in the Trump University case has been unpopular with Republican leaders and voters. If that’s the cause of his poll decline, expect a lot of volatility in the polls over the next few months -- we all know Trump will continue to say dumb things.
That also means we haven’t really seen the Democratic nomination bump yet. Polls in the coming days and weeks will likely show even larger Clinton leads now that President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have endorsed her. An endorsement or concession from her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would also trigger higher numbers for the presumptive nominee.
As with all polling bumps, only time will tell whether they indicate lasting movement or just brief upticks in response to specific events. But the media is likely to hype every minor movement in the polls all summer. Don’t buy in. Public opinion will remain somewhat fluid until after the conventions in late July, and could even fluctuate wildly in the fall campaign. Stick with the averages, and remember that everything can (and likely will) change.
And if the headline says “Shock Poll!” don’t even click on the story. You can choose not to feed the insanity.
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist