Is Hillary Clinton In Trouble?
August 20, 2015

Ed Kilgore in the Washington Monthly untangles some of the latest poll numbers:

Yesterday fans of Hillary Clinton were probably pleased to see her doing pretty well in head-to-head match-ups with a number of Republican candidates in a new national CNN/ORC poll. Among registered voters, she led Jeb Bush 52/43; Donald Trump 51/45; Scott Walker 52/46; and Carly Fiorina 53/43.

But then today a new hailstorm of bad news for HRC arrived from Quinnipiac (which began the whole “Clinton is in trouble!” meme last month with polls showing her support dropping sharply in Colorado and Iowa) via new surveys of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

[...] So who are we to believe? CNN/ORC or Q-PAC?

The CNN/ORC numbers are pretty consistent with overall polling trends: HuffPost Pollster’s polling averages have Clinton leading every named Republican nationally by a minimum of five points. There’s not enough “swing state” polling to provide much of a comparative test of Q-PACs numbers. It’s possible, I suppose, that something’s going on in Colorado, Florida and Iowa (the states where Q-PAC shows Clinton doing so poorly) that makes them less battle-groundy than in the past; Republicans did do unusually well in all three states in 2014, not that this should necessarily matter in a presidential year.

At this point it makes sense to pay more attention to the more abundant national polls in which HRC is still in good shape than in one pollster’s take on specific states. Some observers think national polls are inherently superior, though in 2012 FiveThirtyEight’s judgment was otherwise (in part because some big national firms, notably Gallup and Rasmussen, missed the mark by quite a bit).

I’m still not with the “ignore ‘em all” camp that refuses to look at presidential polling data until some arbitrary date when suddenly they matter a lot. But when they conflict, there’s not much recourse until there’s a lot more data in the can. You can safely ignore, however, the drumbeat of spin we’ll hear today suggesting that Q-PAC has proven HRC is tanking fatally and/or Joe Biden should jump into the race.

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