As the presidential race moves into a potentially key two-week period, with the announcement of running mates and the two party conventions, a flurry of new polls shows Donald Trump closing the gap with Hillary Clinton both nationally and in battleground states.
The shift, coming after nearly two months in which Clinton has held a small but consistent lead, appears to reflect negative reactions to the former secretary of state’s handling of classified information in her emails while she held that post.
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday morning, for example, showed that voters by a wide margin said Clinton would be better than Trump at handling several major issues.
But 67 percent of voters in the survey said Clinton was not trustworthy, an increase of five points from a CBS survey taken last month. The two candidates were tied in the new NYT/CBS poll, with each receiving 40 percent of the vote.
Those findings, and similar ones from several other surveys, come after FBI Director James B. Comey last week called Clinton and her aides “extremely careless” in how they treated classified information. Comey also said their conduct did not clearly violate the law or warrant prosecution.
The new polls were taken before Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s primary rival, endorsed her on Tuesday, so they don’t reflect any gain she may have received from his supporters.
In addition to the New York Times/CBS survey, several other polling organizations have released surveys that similarly show Clinton slipping, both nationally and in states that are important in the presidential race. Although the polls varied, as surveys always do, nearly all showed her support down.
What can’t yet be known is whether the new surveys are capturing Clinton at a low that will prove temporary, as voters react to Comey’s criticism and the renewed attention to the email issue, or whether they reflect a more lasting shift that could hobble Clinton for the remainder of the campaign.
Trump continues to face formidable obstacles to winning. Even as the new surveys show the race tightening, he has not significantly increased his support: Since February, when he began to dominate the Republican primaries, his support in head-to-head matchups with Clinton has rarely risen above 40 percent.
A national poll by Marist College for the McClatchy newspapers, for example, showed Trump with 39 percent versus 42 percent for Clinton. In April, a similar Marist poll found Clinton with a nine-point lead. Clinton’s support had dropped eight points since then. Trump dropped two points, and 13 percent now say they would not vote for either of the two, the poll found.
Moreover, Trump’s dismal standing with black and Latino voters, something repeatedly documented by numerous surveys, has made winning some key states extremely difficult for him, even as it has boosted Democratic prospects in some states that Mitt Romney carried in the last election.
A 50-state compilation by Morning Consult, a media and polling firm that conducts surveys online, found Clinton still leading in enough states to win the presidency, with 320 electoral votes for her and 212 for Trump and Iowa’s six electoral votes a dead heat.
In addition to Iowa, there were eight states where Clinton and Trump were within two points of each other, according to the firm’s surveys, which were based on responses from 57,000 voters in all 50 states. Those were Ohio, where the firm found Trump narrowly ahead, and Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which leaned slightly to Clinton.
Compared with a previous round of surveys in April, Clinton had lost significant ground in Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Ohio. She had gained, however, in Georgia and Nevada, both states with large minority populations. Nevada is now firmly on the Democratic side, the Morning Consult surveys showed.
New polling from Fox News showed Clinton leading in two other states where minority voters are likely to hold the key – Virginia and Colorado.
Additional evidence comes from three other surveys released Wednesday.
Wisconsin’s closely followed Marquette Law School poll showed Clinton with a four-point lead, 45 percent–41 percent among voters likely to cast ballots in that state in November. That was down from a nine-point margin, 46 percent–37 percent, among likely voters in the same survey last month.
Polls in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa by Marist for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found Clinton ahead in Iowa and Pennsylvania and tied with Trump in Ohio. In all three states, however, Clinton had lost ground since previous Marist polls.
Polling by Quinnipiac University of voters in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio similarly showed Clinton losing support. Their surveys found Trump narrowly ahead in Pennsylvania and Florida and a tie in Ohio.
The Quinnipiac polls have generally shown Clinton doing somewhat worse than other surveys, so what’s most significant is the downward trend for her, which matches that found by Marist and Marquette.