Trump's big hopes for a post-RNC polling bounce have burst

Trump's big hopes for a post-RNC polling bounce have burst
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (

Some state polls released after this year’s Republican National Convention have suggested that the presidential election could be growing tighter in Florida and Pennsylvania, with former Vice President Joe Biden slightly ahead in those key swing states (although Quinnipiac finds that Biden has an 8% lead over President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania compared to a 3% lead in Florida). But at the national level, one isn’t seeing major advances for the Trump campaign. FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley, analyzing a slate of new post-RNC national polls, finds that so far, not much has changed nationally in the presidential race — and the big post-convention bounce for Trump that some pundits were predicting has yet to materialize.

Skelley explains:

FiveThirtyEight’s general election forecast tells the tale. On August 16, the Sunday before the Democratic convention, Trump had a 28 in 100 shot at winning. A little over a week later, as the GOP convention was taking place, Trump’s chances ticked up to 32 in 100, as there wasn’t much evidence of Biden getting any post-DNC bounce. And as of the afternoon of Wednesday, September 2, Trump has a 30 in 100 chance. All in all, there’s been only a very small shift in Trump’s direction.

FiveThirtyEight tracks a variety of major polls, ranging from Quinnipiac to Ipsos. And Skelley reports that when all of those pollsters are taken into consideration, the RNC wasn’t a big game-changer for Trump.

“Quinnipiac University found Biden ahead by 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent, in a poll conducted after both conventions, which marked an improvement over Trump’s 15-point deficit in the pollster’s mid-July survey," he explained. "Meanwhile, USA Today/Suffolk University gave Biden a 7-point edge, 50 percent to 43 percent, smaller than the 12-point lead Biden had in late June. Grinnell College/Selzer & Co. also released a new survey, finding Biden ahead by 8 points…. Lastly, CNN/SSRS’s post-convention survey actually showed a marginal improvement for Biden: he led by 8 points, 51%- 43%, up from his 4-point lead in mid-August.”

New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz offers some post-RNC poll analysis as well, listing five reasons why, as he sees it, the U.S. “probably isn’t about to reelect a lawless cable news addict who responded to a pandemic by advising voters to inject bleach into their lungs.”

Pointing to similar findings as described in Skelley's piece, Levitz argued Trump has blown one of his best shots.

“Trump has used up his free, week-long infomercial — and Biden is still leading national polls by a margin too large for the Electoral College to close," he said.

And while some have feared that the recent unrest and violence in the streets would good for Trump, there's little evidence of that.

“Post-Kenosha polling indicates rising crime isn’t actually a ‘win’ for the sitting president.” Trump has been pointing to recent unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin as an example of the type of thing he claims the U.S. would suffer if Biden wins, but Levitz argues that so far, it isn’t working. And Levitz notes it's "hard for Trump to make new attacks on Biden stick when the electorate trusts the Democrat’s word over his" — because polling shows that voters trust the former vice president more than current president by a lot.

One reason to be optimistic about Biden's chances is, unfortunately, bad news for the American people as a whole.

“As the return of cold weather threatens to chill demand for outdoor dining and COVID-19 case counts rise throughout the Midwest,” Levitz argues, “it is easier to see how America’s already beleaguered economy gets significantly worse before Election Day than it is to see how it comes to resemble the triumphant recovery that Trump’s been touting. All else being equal, mass unemployment and rolling bankruptcies are unlikely to aid the ‘Keep America Great’ candidate’s cause.”

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