Whoa: L.A. Times tracking poll has Trump up by 5.9 percent nationally

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday September 15th, 2016


This poll has been more Trump-favorable than any other, and consistently so, but as Rob reminded you the other day, it's not individual polls you want to look at. It's the trend. The pro-Trump trend of the past week to 10 days is moving into the realm of the stunning, and that being the case, you'd expect the L.A. Times poll to show him building on what was a small lead.

Presumption confirmed:

Donald Trump's lead over Hillary Clinton in the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national tracking poll grew to nearly six percentage points on Thursday, his largest advantage since his post-convention bounce in July.

The biggest reason appears to be an increase in the likelihood of Trump supporters who say they plan to vote, combined with a drop among Clinton supporters on that question. The nominees are now roughly equal in the voting commitment of their supporters, erasing an advantage previously held by Clinton.

The poll shows Trump leading Clinton, 47%-41%.

The question of voter turnout should continue to loom large until election day, making Clinton's advantage in field organizing and fundraising crucial for her if the race remains tight.

Trump's overall advantage in the poll coincides with other polls that show him closing the gap with Clinton. Because of differences in methodology, Trump tends to perform about six percentage points better in the USC/L.A. Times poll than in other polls.

The Times goes on to explain that the main difference in its methodology is a technique to minimize the impact of short-term bounces. They offered this back in July to explain why Trump was outperforming other polls while everyone else was showing Hillary with a huge post-convention bounce. That made sense then, but it's less helpful now in explaining why this poll has Trump anywhere from four to eight points better than other polls.

Even so, the trend is consistent. In polls that showed Trump way behind, he's now closing in on a dead heat. Polls that had Trump just behind have him just ahead. And the L.A. Times has him building a fairly sizeable lead.

This can all change, of course, but anyone who thought Hillary was a shoe-in because most Americans would surely consider a Trump presidency beyond the pale have to be shaking their heads in disbelief at this point. Hillary's the one who keeps giving everyone reasons not to vote for her, and Trump has tightened up the message discipline while tamping down on the self-inflicted wounds.

Now, having said that, let's see what happens when the Hillary health story runs its course and the media starts finding new reasons to portray Trump as some sort of lunatic. I think we're in for a volatile eight weeks, in which absolutely anything can happen. What we're not in for is a Hillary march to an easy victory. It was always implausible to think a candidate as bad as Hillary was going to win easily. Now the idea seems perfectly laughable.

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