Hillary Clinton moved into a clear polling lead over Donald Trump just after the Democratic convention, which ended on July 28. Pretty much ever since, the reporters and poll watchers that I follow have seemed eager to tell the next twist in the story. Would Trump’s numbers get even worse, possibly leading to the first double-digit victory for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964? Or would Trump mount a comeback? As of last Tuesday, there wasn’t much evidence of an overall shift in the race. Trump was gaining ground in some polls but losing ground in a roughly equal number of them.
Since then, Trump has gotten some slightly better results, with national polls suggesting a race more in line with a 5- or 6-percentage-point lead for Clinton instead of the 7- or 8-point lead she had earlier in August. But state polls haven’t really followed suit and continue to show Clinton with some of her largest leads of the campaign. Trump received some decent numbers in Iowa and Nevada, but his polls in other swing states have been bad.
Overall, Trump has gained slightly in our forecasts: He’s up to a 15 percent chance of winning the Electoral College in our polls-only model, up from a low of 11 percent a week ago. And he’s at 25 percent in polls-plus, up from a low of 21 percent. But the evidence is conflicting enough that I don’t think we can rule out a larger swing toward Trump or, alternatively, that his position hasn’t improved at all.
Let’s start with those national polls. In the table below, I’ve listed every national poll that we’ve added to our database since Tuesday and how it compared to the …