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A Real Look at the Polls: Trump is Indeed Catching up to Hillary

A Real Look at the Polls: Trump is Indeed Catching up to Hillary

As I wrote in a previous article, Donald Trump’s campaign is evolving. The brash billionaire is sticking to the teleprompter and softening some of his harsh viewpoints (immigration, for example) to appeal to a wider audience. 

The latest polls reflect these positive changes, with Trump making significant gains against Hillary during the past three weeks.

Much of this success is credited to Kellyanne Conway, a political strategist who was hired on as Trump’s campaign manager earlier this month. 

While polls typically are not accurate within more than 3-5 points, each poll does tend to be accurate relative to itself, and many August polls show that Trump is indeed closing the gap. We selected only the major polls that had polling data from this week and the first week of August. 

When you add Johnson and Stein to the contest, polling data from Economist/YouGov, Gravis, Monmouth, and Reuters/Ipsos each showed a substantial loss. Clinton’s lead has dwindled by an average of 3.5 points since the first week of August. 

In a one-on-one contest, data from Economist/YouGov shows Clinton’s lead has decreased from +7 (Aug. 6-9) to just +3 (Aug. 19-23). The latest LA Times/USC poll shows Trump and Clinton in a dead tie with 44 points each, compared to Clinton’s +4 lead just two weeks ago. 

Polling is a very scientific practice in theory, but it is very difficult in practice to choose samples that reflect evenly across the population in the dozens, perhaps hundreds of relevant demographics. A polling agency must actually recruit the right people and keep track of a thousand or more potential respondents is a difficult process. This is why polls vary so widely.

The result is polling agencies tend to use largely the same respondents with each poll. While the samples maybe skewed enough to have a margin of error of 4-5%, changes in the opnions in the same polling sample are substantially more important.

In short, the math is real, Trump is gaining.

 

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