Democrat insiders have no doubt spent the past week celebrating the fact that their subterfuge has paid off: They’ve finally carried Hillary Clinton over the finish line. But after the balloons have dropped, the confetti has cleared, and the teleprompter have been packed away, those insiders will finally have the opportunity to take a look at the week’s worth of polling. What they find won’t be pretty.
Here’s a roundup of some of the latest polls:
- NBC News: For the first time in the race, NBC News’ poll shows Donald Trump leading Clinton by 2 points (41 to 39 percent), which represents a six-point jump for the New York businessman.
- CBS News: Trump and Clinton are now tied in the poll, with Trump having a slight one-point edge when voters who lean toward a candidate are included. The poll also found that Trump’s favorability rating went up four points, his trustworthiness rating went up five points, and the percentage of people who believe he is prepared to be president went up eight points.
- CNN/ORC: The latest poll shows Trump surging seven points since the last poll, taking a 44 percent to 39 percent lead over Clinton, largely on the back of increased support from independents. That marks Trump’s best showing in the polls since September of 2015.
- USC/LA Times: The poll shows Trump receiving the strongest post-convention bounce. At the beginning of the convention, the poll found Trump and Clinton essentially tied, but as the poll (which represents a seven-day rolling average of responses) began to capture the RNC’s excitement, Trump jumped to a 7-percentage-point lead, 47 percent to 40 percent.
Clinton’s lead hasn’t just eroded, it’s completely evaporated. Of course, this sense of poll-induced dread isn’t isn’t exactly a new phenomena for Democrats. It’s worth remembering that just two weeks ago Congressional Democrats held a closed-door meeting to discuss Clinton’s poor polling performance. They were reportedly so nervous as to be “freaked out” that the race was so close, in spite of all of the perceived advantages that Clinton had (which included, as we know now, the illicit collusion of the DNC).
Ultimately, it’s not Trump’s numbers that have Democrats shaking in their boots, it’s Clinton’s steady decline in her personal image.
The CNN poll finds that 68 percent of Americans say Clinton isn’t honest and trustworthy, her worst number on record (and a 9-point rise since May). That figure is a whopping 22 percent higher than the 46 percent who say Trump is honest and trustworthy. Relatedly, the poll shows that just 39 percent have a favorable view of Clinton (lower than at any point since 1992) while 55 percent have an unfavorable opinion. That 16-point gap is the largest in the history of Clinton’s career (and their backed up by a Gallup poll showing 38 percent favorable and 57 percent unfavorable ratings). And perhaps most devastatingly, just 38 percent of Americans now say they would be “proud” to have her as president, a steep decline from the 55 percent who said the same in March 2015.
Clinton has nobody but herself to blame for her deficits on each of these fronts: trustworthiness, favorability, and respect. As Politico’s Todd Purdum writes, they all tie back to her penchant for lying and her hamfisted attempt to cover it up.
More than anything else about Clinton—her occasional tin ear for politics, her seeming inability to connect with large crowds, her ultracautiousness—it is the trust issue that could yet cost her a general election she should otherwise win, given her opponent’s vulnerabilities.
Plainly put, Clinton herself has kept the issue alive over 25 years of public life, with long-winded, defensive, obfuscating answers to questions that—in politics, if not in law—cry out for a crisp yes-or-no reply.
Email-gate is only the latest step on this long, winding road. Consider just one brief, recent revelatory exchange with Charlie Rose, in which Rose noted (correctly) that FBI Director James Comey had called her “careless,” and Clinton replied with a flurry of nonresponsive words: “Well, I would hope that you like many others would also look at what he said when he testified before Congress, because when he did, he clarified much of what he had said in his press conference.”
“But he said it was sloppy,” Rose persisted.
“No,” Clinton insisted, “he did not.”
He did. And until she can bring herself to simply say that her numbers will continue their steady decline.