On NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday, host Chuck Todd asked Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, if he’s prepared to acknowledge the fact that the Republican is trailing in the polls. “No,” Manafort replied. The GOP operative added, “[W]e’re confident that we are not behind the Clinton campaign.”
The evidence to the contrary is hard to miss. Yesterday morning, two major national polls were released. First up, is the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a five-point advantage over Republican Donald Trump after becoming her party’s presumptive presidential nominee, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.Forty-six percent of registered voters back Clinton, versus 41 percent who support Trump - slightly up from Clinton’s three-point lead in May, 46 percent to 43 percent.
Which came out around the same time as the new Washington Post/ABC News poll:
Donald Trump returns to the campaign trail from Scotland this week contending with sweeping unease about his candidacy as a large majority of Americans register their disapproval and see the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee as discriminatory and unqualified, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. […][I]n a head-to-head general election matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 39 percent among registered voters nationwide, the poll found. This is Clinton’s largest lead in Post-ABC polling since last fall.
Obviously, there’s quite a bit of difference between a 12-point deficit and a 5-point deficit, and Republicans are eager to point to the latter. Trump himself, using his trademark eloquence, dismissed the Washington Post/ABC News survey, saying, “Other polls good!”
But therein lies the point: the other polls aren’t good. Literally every national poll conducted over the last month has shown Clinton ahead, and polling averages give her an advantage of about seven points. The fact that the Republican candidate and his team are eagerly touting the NBC results as good news tells us something important: for Team Trump, a poll showing him losing by five percentage points is what passes for great news right now.
Making matters slightly worse for Republicans, the ABC poll found President Obama’s approval rating climbing to 56% – the highest it’s been since Obama ordered the strike that killed Osama bin Laden.
As we’ve discussed before, the president won’t literally be on the ballot this year, but there’s little doubt the president’s standing will have a real impact on the public’s appetite – or lack thereof – for radical change in 2017 and beyond, and insiders in both parties will be keeping a close eye on Obama’s numbers in the coming months.
What’s more, this president will be the first two-term incumbent of the television era to aggressively hit the campaign trail during his last year in office, and the more popularity he enjoys, the greater the effects will be.