Donald Trump appears to have rekindled the flame for his on-again, off-again relationship with the polls, falling back in love with them just as they show him narrowing Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race for the White House.
Trump was quick to tout a fresh ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll released Tuesday, showing him leading by a single percentage point, 46 percent to 45 percent, with just one week to go until Election Day. It’s the same tracking poll that put the Manhattan billionaire down 12 points earlier this month and his comeback story was cause for celebration on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“Wow, now leading in @ABC /@washingtonpost Poll 46 to 45. Gone up 12 points in two weeks, mostly before the Crooked Hillary blow-up!” Trump tweeted just before 9 a.m. Monday, a sharp turn from the weeks he spent on the campaign trail decrying “rigged” polls and suggesting that the election might be stolen out from under him by widespread voter fraud.
Clinton’s “blow-up” has picked up steam in recent weeks amid the daily trickle of emails hacked from the personal account of her campaign chairman John Podesta and as news broke that premiums on Obamacare health insurance policies will spike next year. But the Democratic nominee’s campaign was pushed fully back onto its heels Friday when FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress disclosing that the bureau is reviewing fresh evidence pertaining to Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
That announcement from Comey delivered to Trump a powerful rhetorical weapon with which to hammer Clinton in the campaign’s final days, bolstering his “crooked Hillary” talking points and re-raising questions about her ethics. But while the ABC/Washington Post poll showed Clinton slipping, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted entirely after Comey’s Friday announcement showed the former secretary of state maintaining a 3-point lead nationwide in a head-to-head race against Trump, the same advantage she held before the FBI bombshell.
Another Washington Post poll published Tuesday, this one of likely voters in Virginia, showed Trump trailing Clinton 6 points in a traditionally red state that President Barack Obama won in each of the past two elections. That poll was conducted from Thursday to Sunday and showed that Clinton actually polled slightly better in the two days after Comey’s bombshell announcement than she did before, although the Post noted that that difference could be explained by the more diverse sample of voters reached over the weekend.
The ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll has shifted drastically since launching less than two weeks ago. In the initial four-night rolling sample, from Oct. 20-23, Clinton had a 12-point advantage over Trump, 50 percent to 38 percent. But in the most recent rolling sample, conducted Oct. 27-30, Trump has inched in front of Clinton by seven-tenths of a percentage point.
A large part of that movement appears to come from increased enthusiasm for Trump — and waning passion for Clinton. Among likely voters who say they are “very enthusiastic” about their choice, Trump has an 8-point lead over Clinton. And ABC News notes that in the three nights of the tracking poll that were conducted after the FBI director’s letter to Congress, energy for Clinton has diminished more acutely.
Still, Trump’s campaign seemed happy to bask in the news.
“#poll vault: @ABC Poll has @realDonaldTrump in lead for 1st time since May. Trump 46 Clinton 45. DJT +13 in 8 days,” the real estate mogul’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, telling ABC’s chief political analyst in a subsequent tweet that she is “loving this #poll with Trump in the lead @matthewjdowd. Great way to start November.”
But not everyone on Trump’s team has fallen back in love with the polls. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the Trump campaign’s highest-profile surrogates who made the short list for the vice presidential nomination, has long been critical of polls and Tuesday was no exception. He deviated sharply from Trump and Conway, writing on Twitter that The “Washington Post-ABC poll is an absurdity. Trump has not moved up 13 points in the last 8 days. He was NEVER 12 points behind. Ignore polls.”
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