The summer has not been kind to Donald Trump.
Self-made controversies such as the Kahn Family feud and waffling on whether he would support House Speaker Paul Ryan have dogged him. His spokesperson Katrina Pierson is a one-woman wrecking crew. His campaign was rocked by another seismic moment with the appointment of Breitbart bigwig and alt-right rock star Steve Bannon as CEO. Then in a not-unexpected aftershock, his second campaign chief, Paul Manafort, resigned. And that’s not the half of it.
The data-driven website FiveThirtyEight today puts Trump’s chance of winning the presidency at 22.7 percent vs. 77.3 percent for Hillary Clinton. An NBC/SurveyMonkey online poll taken last week has Clinton ahead by 6 percentage points. And a confident Clinton is already preparing to be president, mapping a detailed agenda focused on jobs, infrastructure and immigration reform, according to The Washington Post.
These haven’t just been the dog days of summer for Trump, they’ve been the scalded-dog days.
But there are glimmers of hope for the Manhattan mogul — from FiveThirtyEight’s numbers to social media to a recent Pew poll, and from independents and a list of issues vexing voters the most.
FiveThirtyEight’s numbers show the gap between Trump and Clinton narrowing a bit: Last week, it had the former secretary of state at 352.3 electoral votes vs. 185.2 for the mogul; it now projects Clinton at 330 and Trump at 207.5. In the popular vote, she was ahead 48.8 percent to 41.7. That’s slipped to 48.2 percent to 42.6. And Clinton’s chance of winning by a landslide has fallen by 7.7 percentage points to 24.2 percent.
On social media, Trump remains surprisingly competitive. If you plug @hillaryclinton and @realdonaldtrump into the opinion search site 30dB (for which I consult), you get 36 percent positives for Clinton but 42 percent positives for Trump over the past 14 days. Sure, Trump lives on Twitter but if social media is a reflection of public sentiment at some level, he still remains competitive against Clinton.
The poll released on Aug. 18 by the widely respected Pew Research Center gave Clinton only a four-point edge at 41 percent vs. 37 percent for Trump, 10 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 4 percent for Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
In the Reuters/Ipsos survey, while 62 percent of voters view Trump unfavorably vs. 54 percent for Clinton, the Republican beats the Democrat among independents by 18 points. Importantly, 64 percent of independents disapprove of the job President Obama is doing.
And the issues independent voters care the most about — lack of jobs, terrorism, health care and immigration, in that order — are in Trump’s sweet spot.
Two weeks ago, the NBC/Survey Monkey online tracking poll had Clinton ahead among independents by eight points; this week, she is only four points ahead, 37-33.
While all of that isn’t much from Trump backers to cling to, there is also that Clinton email scandal that will never be put to rest.