sábado, 5 de noviembre de 2016

Clinton clings to fragile lead

A 52-percent majority of Hillary Clinton supporters now say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for her.

5 political numbers to watch
Hillary Clinton enters the final weekend of this historic presidential campaign with a small-but-real lead over Donald Trump — nationally and in enough key states to be elected president.

Polls show clear gains for Trump over the past few weeks, though there are some inconclusive suggestions in the data that the Republican’s momentum may have been arrested this week, with the bombshell letter from FBI Director James Comey farther in the rear-view mirror.

Clinton’s lead isn’t secure. There is ample precedent for the polls to be off the mark by a sufficient margin for Trump to win the national popular vote. And despite the conventional wisdom that Clinton has an Electoral College advantage, Trump’s rise in the polls has exposed the cracks in that firewall.

Here are five numbers that underscore Clinton’s lead — and its fragility:

Two national polls released Friday night offer similar overall results: A Fox News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by 2 percentage points, while the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, conducted over roughly the same time frame, shows Clinton ahead by 4 points.

But beneath the topline numbers, there are key differences in the two surveys.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll — the most recent rolling average is composed of interviews conducted Monday through Thursday — indicates enthusiasm for Clinton, which tapered off after Comey’s letter last week, has rebounded.

A 52-percent majority of Clinton supporters now say they are “very enthusiastic” about voting for her, equal to the 51 percent of Trump supporters “very enthusiastic” about him.

Enthusiasm for Trump has been relatively stable, ranging between 49 percent and 53 percent over the two weeks of the tracking poll.

But enthusiasm for Clinton has been more tumultuous. Over the first four nights, 49 percent of Clinton voters were “very enthusiastic,” but that dipped to the mid 40s after Comey’s letter.

The recovery was abrupt. In the four nights previous to the poll's release — Sunday through Wednesday — Clinton’s “very enthusiastic” share was 47 percent. But dropping Sunday’s interviews and adding Thursday’s increased that figure 5 points.

The Fox News poll, however, holds a nugget that suggests there is an enthusiasm gap favoring the GOP nominee. More Trump voters (71 percent) say they “strongly support” their choice than Clinton voters (65 percent).

Similarly, more Trump supporters say they are “extremely interested” in the election (63 percent) than Clinton supporters (54 percent).

But, as Democrats will note, the final Fox News poll of the 2012 election showed Mitt Romney’s supporters more interested in the election, and more likely to say it was really important who won.

Comey’s letter gave Trump’s numbers a short-term jolt, but the real uptick in his poll numbers came in the week leading up to it.

One possible explanation: Dissatisfaction with the 2010 health care law, particularly following news that premiums for those purchasing on the individual exchanges are set to rise, on average, 25 percent next year, with fewer options available to consumers.

The Fox News poll has tracked likely voters’ perceptions of the law — President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement and a key part of the Democratic platform — twice in the past three weeks. In Fox’s October 10-12 survey, roughly as many voters favored keeping the law in place (46 percent) as would repeal it (48 percent).

But support for maintaining the law has dropped to 41 percent in the new survey, with a 52-percent majority in favor of repeal.

Two weeks ago, Clinton had a lock on the Electoral College battlegrounds. But Trump has made significant inroads, according to public polls, coinciding with his rise nationally.

As of mid-October, Clinton had leads of five points or greater in six of the battleground states in the MARCA POLITICA Battleground States polling average — Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

But going into the final weekend, Clinton’s advantage only exceeds 5 points in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Colorado, Clinton’s average lead is still at 4 points, including two Democratic polls on Friday that showed Clinton ahead by 5 points.

In New Hampshire, Clinton’s lead has narrowed even more. She still has a 2-point lead in the average, but the three most recent polls show a tie, a tie and a 1-point Trump lead, respectively.

Clinton’s lead in Virginia is now 4 points, though that’s driven in part by one poll late last month that gave Trump a 3-point lead.

Clinton also has small leads in two states she’s never been able to move firmly in her column: North Carolina and Nevada.

Trump, meanwhile, leads by 3.2 points in Iowa and 2.2 points in Ohio, and by a statistically insignificant 0.4 points in Florida.

One reason there's so much uncertainty in the race so close to Election Day is the sharp decline in high-quality polls this year.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver on Friday calculated the number of polls in competitive states released from Thursday evening through the day on Friday. In all, Silver counted 67 polls across 17 states.

That seems like a robust number, but of the 67 polls, only 5 were conducted by live telephone interviewers randomly calling voters on landlines and cell phones — still considered by many to be the most reliable form of polling.

The other 62 surveys were conducted either by automated phone calls to landlines, polls conducted over the internet or a combination of the two. Landline-only polls ignore the roughly half of adult Americans who live in households with only a wireless phone. And while some firms are producing accurate results online, much of that work is still less proven and experimental, and roughly one-in-10 Americans still lack internet access.

Live-interview polls have flaws, too. And their decline is a result of a number of related factors: They are becoming more expensive, budgets have been shrinking at the news organizations that have traditionally sponsored them and the online research is far cheaper.

Many of the state polls that have moved the polling averages toward Trump have been less-expensive surveys conducted by Republican firms. But without the higher-quality polls, it’s difficult to know whether that movement is genuine.

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