Hillary Clinton is ahead. No doubt about it.
The post-convention polls that say a lot about the public’s current mood are in, and the Democratic nominee has opened up strong leads over Republican Donald Trump.
While that’s no guarantee she’s going to win the election, it does give her an important head start.
“It’s the kind of number she wanted,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducts the McClatchy-Marist Poll, said in an interview.
But pollsters quickly warned it’s not a safe lead. “This (lead) is important. She had a good convention,” Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at Washington’s American Enterprise Institute, said of the new numbers, in an interview. “But I want to wait to see the polls after Labor Day.”
This August is unusual. Not since 1960 have both political conventions ended before the month began, making it unclear what will matter politically. Despite the barrage of political news this week, Bowman cited as distractions the Olympics, which hold opening ceremonies Friday and run through August 21, summer vacations and the start of school.
The new polls do give Clinton an edge, and are significant not only in reflecting sentiment about the conventions, but also in reflecting news over the weekend. Trump has been feuding with the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed in Iraq 12 years ago and who posthumously received a Bronze Star. The dispute began Thursday night and is still raging.
While it’s too soon to know whether it will have a lasting effect, some leading Republicans have been openly critical of their nominee. Several U.S. senators criticized Trump, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said the family should be “off limits,” and on Tuesday, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., said he’d be voting for Clinton.
“For me, it is not enough to simply denounce his comments,” Hanna said of Trump in an op-ed on Syracuse.com. “He is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead the country.”
I do not expect perfection, but I do require more than the embodiment of at least a short list of the seven deadly sins.
Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., explaining in a Syracuse.com op-ed why he won’t support Donald Trump
If Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein are included, Clinton is up by 4 points in NBC’s poll and 8 in CNN’s survey.
There were other troubling signs for Trump. Gallup found that Trump lost support after his convention. Its poll found people were 51-36 less likely to vote for Trump after the GOP convention. His numbers went up slightly after his convention, but dropped after the Democratic convention.
In contrast, more people said they were more likely to vote for Clinton after her convention.
“It appears the Democratic Party will leave the convention phase better off than before it began,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones said in a poll analysis.
Clinton helped herself during the convention in a crucial area. She needed to show herself more likeable, particularly with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ backers protested throughout the convention, saying Clinton was too tied to the corporate interests their candidate vowed to challenge.
By a rate of 45-41 percent, people said they were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton after the Democratic convention, Gallup found.
Post-convention surveys found that they were slowly accepting Clinton. CNN found that among Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, 84 percent said they expect the party to be united on Election Day. That’s up 9 points from before the conventions.
Voters who would have preferred Sanders as the party’s nominee now break 69 percent for Clinton, 13 percent for Stein, 10 percent for Johnson and 3 percent for Trump. That’s a gain of 5 points for Clinton. Stein got a 7-point boost.
The polls, though, indicate Clinton remains vulnerable on at least two fronts.
CBS found 91 percent of Trump supporters have their minds made up.
“There’s a real desire for change,” said Jeffrey Horwitt, senior vice president of Hart Research Associates, a Washington polling firm in an interview.
That yen for change “is why he’s been able to stay competitive so far,” Horwitt said.
Clinton also has an empathy problem. “A traditional Democratic strength is that the candidate cares about people like me,” said Bowman. Clinton hasn’t been as convincing, surveys show. The CNN poll showed 53 percent still view her unfavorably, down from 55 percent before the convention.
That’s better than Trump, who’s seen unfavorably by 61 percent, still unusually high for a major presidential candidate.