posted at 4:31 pm on October 31, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Or do they? The toplines from two prominent tracking polls don’t show much change after FBI Director James Comey announced that new “investigative steps” are being taken in Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, but some of the underlying fundamentals have changed, and not in Hillary’s favor. The Washington Post’s report on its WaPo/ABC tracking poll notes that Hillary’s favorability has declined into a tie with Donald Trump in the immediate aftermath:
The tracking poll, conducted Wednesday through Saturday, found little immediate impact in presidential support after FBI director James Comey’s Friday announcement that the agency will review additional emails from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. In combined results from Friday night and Saturday, voters split 45 percent for Clinton and 46 percent for Trump, statistically unchanged from Clinton’s 47-44 margin on Wednesday and Thursday. …
The parity in basic popularity undermines a key advantage for Clinton throughout most of a presidential campaign where Trump set records as most unpopular presidential candidate in polling history. Clinton’s ratings were consistently negative, but were only rarely as troubled as her opponent.
Vote preferences among likely voters continue to be closely divided in the Post-ABC Tracking Poll, with Clinton at 46 percent and Trump at 45 percent, the same split as the previous wave reported Sunday. In a two-way matchup excluding third-party candidates, voters split 49-47 between Clinton and Trump; the margin was 49-46 percent in the previous daily tracking poll.
No immediate impact? That might depend on how one measures it. The data shows that the responses went from 48/44 Hillary on Wednesday to 46/45 Hillary two days in a row on Friday and Saturday. Earlier in the week, the gap had been 49/40 Hillary (Monday’s results). The change from Wednesday is within the margin of error in the poll, but still look like some sort of shift.
Perhaps more importantly, there seems to be an erosion of enthusiasm among the WaPo/ABC responders, although it’s tough to pin down exactly whose voters this impacts:
A poll released Sunday shows more than 30 percent of likely voters say they are less inclined to support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton after revelations Friday about the FBI reviewing newly-discovered emails potentially related to Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The ABC/Washington Post tracking poll was conducted from Tuesday to Friday, which means the survey’s 1,781 respondents could only be asked on the final day about the revelations regarding the new emails.
Still, the poll found 34 percent of the respondents were “less likely” to vote for Clinton and that she now leads Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by just a single percentage point, 46-to-45 percent, in a four-way White House race, with Election Day on Nov. 8.
Well, sure, but to which group did this 34% belong? The voters who were planning to vote for Hillary? If so, then it’s really bad news for Democrats, but one might expect a bigger topline shift if that were the case. Are they already Trump voters who now are even more unlikely to vote for Hillary? If so, then … that’s not really news. They could be independents, though, which would still complicate matters for Democrats all the way down the ballot … assuming this impact lasts. Absent more revelations from James Comey or leaks from within the FBI, that may be a large assumption no matter who these voters are.
Finally, we do see a recent topline swing in one tracking poll. The LA Times/USC tracker has Trump up 46%/44.1% over Hillary, his widest lead in this series since the second debate. That’s not exactly a lead to cheer, but it is a lead, and perhaps an indicator that a bigger swing might be coming.