Trump beats or matches Clinton in some polls. But…

The polls are tricky and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not in the same position as she still fights Bernie Sanders in primaries. But if we look at some polls Clinton and Trump are tied in likely November matchup. How do you read such polls or maybe we should not pay much attention to them? Read few comments.

John PitneyProfessor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College

The polls are worth considering, but many things can change between May and November.

In the spring of 2008, polls showed a very tight race between McCain and Obama.

Four years later, Romney often came close.

Clinton is having trouble because of internal fighting in the Democratic Party. She and Sanders will probably make peace at some point, and then her numbers will improve.

The campaign is likely to be very negative, and Trump has more to worry about than Clinton. She has been under intense political scrutiny for 24 years, and voters are already very familiar with her faults. Though Trump has long been in the public eye, he has not been the target of intense opposition research until this year. His Republican opponents did a poor job in this respect, but Democrats have reportedly been building their Trump file for months. Expect many revelations about his personal life and business record. Obama strategist David Plouffe, who probably knows something about the Democrats’ opposition research, issued this cryptic tweet on May 14.

My strong suspicion is after the full excavation of Donald Trump is complete, he will wish he never ran much less won the nomination.

Brian Frederick, Department Chair, Political Science, Bridgewater State University

I would agree that she is suffering from concerns expressed by supporters of Bernie Sanders who have not been convinced to back Hillary Clinton in the general election. Most of them will probably come around but she clearly has some work to do to unite the party.

On polls most political science evidence shows that they are not very accurate until after the major party conventions. I would not put much stock in them at this point. Once we get to August then I think observers should place greater weight on what the polls are saying. Anyone confidently predicting what will happen in November based on today’s polls is making a mistake.

Stephen Farnsworth, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs & Director, Center for Leadership and Media Studies, University of Mary Washington

The early polls show that this should be a very close election, and that makes sense in a country basically divided 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans. As has been the case in the past, once a party has chosen a nominee nearly all the party loyalists support that nominee. Donald Trump is benefiting from that now, and Hillary Clinton will benefit from that pattern once Bernie Sanders concludes his campaign.

It’s important not to make all that much of these early surveys. A lot can change in six months, and four years ago the polls at this point showed Mitt Romney favored over President Obama.


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