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Donald Trump’s polling since the debate has been dismal

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Spooky Nook Sports center in Manheim, Pennsylvania
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

The vast majority of swing state and national polls that have been released since last week’s first presidential debate suggest that Hillary Clinton is on track to win the presidency.

Nationally, Clinton has led 10 out of 13 polls. On average, RealClearPolitics now estimates she leads Trump by 3.7 percentage points, while HuffPost Pollster puts her lead at 6 percentage points — meaning she seems to have gotten a bump of a couple of points.

In swing states, the news for Clinton has been even better. First of all, the newest polls have shown her in a very strong position in the series of states that make up her easiest path to the presidency. These are:

We’re still waiting on polling from Wisconsin and Michigan, but if Clinton still has solid leads in those states too, that would be enough to put her over the top in the Electoral College. The very strong poll for Clinton in Colorado is particularly good news for her, since it suggests the fears that the state might be sliding out of the Clinton column appear to be unfounded.

Then there are the three diverse swing states that all looked to be very close — Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. None are must-win for Clinton, but the first two in particular both seem to be must-win for Trump. Yet Clinton has led the post-debate polls in all three:

Pretty much the only good news for Trump has come in Ohio, where a Quinnipiac poll showed him leading by 5, corroborating the recent indicators that the Rust Belt state is trending his way. (Iowa, the other swing state that has looked particularly strong for Trump, hasn’t been polled.)

Meanwhile, the FiveThirtyEight forecasts that have frequently given liberals heartburn of late now all show Clinton with more than a 70 percent chance of winning, and every other major forecast continues to show her as a heavy favorite (you can check out what they’re all saying at the Upshot’s hub).

But will this movement last?

If you’re feeling a bit of déjà vu here, you’re not alone. The polls have seemed to seesaw back and forth between showing a strong Clinton lead and a very close race (with, usually, Clinton ahead just a bit). Let’s recap the seesawing trends:

  • In late July, Trump’s prospects seem to surge as he caught up close to Clinton in the wake of the FBI report on her email scandal.
  • But then in early August, after the Democratic convention and the Khan controversy in early August, Clinton took a big lead.
  • Then through late August and September, Trump gradually caught up, and the race looked close again.
  • And now since last Monday’s debate, Clinton again appears to be surging.

One has to wonder whether these poll fluctuations are picking up genuine changes in opinion among millions of American voters. The phenomenon of differential non-response rates — in which partisans are less likely to agree to participate in political polls if there’s been bad news for their candidate lately — could conceivably be playing a role. Trump supporters may not really be in the mood for polls if they’ve been hearing all week that their candidate lost the debate badly.

Overall, though, Clinton has seemed to remain the favorite all along. The major question has been just how much of a favorite she should be — a narrow one, or a solid one. So we’ll see whether her new polling bounce ends up proving to be a durable one, or whether it will vanish when a new news cycle or debate story changes the subject.


Watch: The bad map we see every presidential election