Hillary Clinton Holds A Pre-Convention Lead, New Polling Finds

Hillary Clinton holds a modest but solid lead over Donald Trump in the race for president, according to three new surveys released on the eve of the Republican convention in Cleveland.

New ABC/Washington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal and CNN/ORC polls find Clinton with leads of 4, 5 and 7 points respectively in head-to-head matchups against Trump.

Other surveys this month have shown a closer race, including a CBS/New York Times poll that found Clinton and Trump tied. A poll of 11 battleground states states released Sunday by CBS and YouGov gave Clinton just a 1-point edge in those contests.

HuffPost Pollster’s model, which aggregates all publicly available polls, gives the former secretary of state a lead of just under 4 points nationwide.

The results from ABC/Washington Post, which earlier gave Clinton an unusually high 12-point lead, indicate a tightening election. Both the NBC/WSJ and CNN polls, however, suggest that the state of the race has remained largely unchanged since the beginning of summer, despite a spate of stories including FBI Director James Comey’s rebuke of Clinton for her use of a private email server.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Peter Hart, whose firm comprises the Democratic half of the NBC/WSJ polling team, told NBC. “Things haven’t changed an awful lot.” His Republican counterpart, Bill McInturff, agreed that the “overall ballot is very stable, and the contours of this election are becoming stable.”

The latest round of polling also reiterates how deeply unpopular both Clinton and Trump remain with the electorate. As the Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement note, 64 percent of Americans view Trump unfavorably, while 54 percent have negative views of Clinton. Nearly 60 percent say they’re dissatisfied with the choice of Trump versus Clinton.

That gives a potential opening to third party candidate like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein. When their names are included, CNN/ORC gives Johnson and Stein a combined 18 percent of the vote, with NBC/WSJ giving them a combined 17 percent and ABC/Post finding the third parties at 13 percent.

Deciding on how to poll third-party and independent candidates can be tricky ―research finds that, while surveys that don’t include those candidates by name tend to understate their support, those that do include them often overestimate how much backing they’ll receive.

“Typically, support for third party candidates fades as the major party tickets are set heading into their conventions. But Johnson’s support outpaces that of a typical third party candidate and may prove to have more staying power,” CNN polling director Jennifer Agiesta writes. “One hint that it could fade: Support for both Johnson and Stein appears concentrated among those less enthusiastic about voting this year, suggesting their supporters may be less apt to turn out in the end.”

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters between July 9 and July 13, while the Washington Post/ABC poll surveyed 1,003 adults, including 816 registered voters, between July 11 and July 14, and the CNN/ORC poll surveyed 1,013 adults, including 872 registered voters, between July 13 and July 16. All three used live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

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