A tale of two polls: Donald Trump leads in the smaller one

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There are polls, and then there are polls.

Fresh off the Labor Day weekend, CNN is out with a nationwide survey that shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a very slight edge over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton:

Trump tops Clinton 45% to 43% in the new survey, with Libertarian Gary Johnson standing at 7% among likely voters in this poll and the Green Party’s Jill Stein at just 2%.logo-all

You can find the details here, but the methodology is quite standard – a brief, multi-day window, several hundred respondents, and an acceptably low margin of error. The poll is based on:

….[i]nterviews with 1,001 adult Americans conducted by telephone by ORC International on September 1-4, 2016. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The sample also includes 886 interviews among registered voters (plus or minus 3.5 percentage points), and 786 interviews among likely voters (plus or minus 3.5 percentage points).

The weakness of a national poll, of course, is that American presidents are selected via separate, state-by-state elections. Only hours after the CNN poll was released, a massive competitor filled that gap. Something of a gorilla, in fact:

With nine weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump is within striking distance in the Upper Midwest, but Hillary Clinton’s strength in many battlegrounds and some traditional Republican strongholds gives her a big electoral college advantage, according to a 50-state Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll.

Methodology can be found here:

From Aug. 9 to Sept. 1, the survey asked the sample of 74,886 registered voters about their presidential support, including between 546 and 5,147 respondents in each state. The final sample was weighted to the latest Census Bureau benchmarks for the population of registered voters in each state.

The Washington Post/SurveyMonkey poll relies somewhat on self-selection, so no margin of error is involved. But its state-by-state look says Georgia is only one of several red states within Clinton’s reach. From the Post:

… Trump is struggling in places Republicans have won consistently and that he must hold to have any hope of winning. These states include Arizona and Georgia, as well as Texas — the biggest surprise in the 50-state results. The Texas results, which are based on a sample of more than 5,000 people, show a dead heat, with Clinton ahead by one percentage point.

One weakness worth noting: The Georgia end of the Post poll included Green Party candidate Jill Stein as one of four presidential choices that also included Libertarian Gary Johnson. Stein, who collected 4 percent in the Post survey, won’t be on the Georgia ballot.

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The Los Angeles Times today weighs in with its own take on whether Georgia is ready to turn blue in November. A key line:

“I’m not going to say it’s likely,” said James Carter, a Democratic operative in Atlanta and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. “Still, it’s definitely realistically possible.”

Understandably, the Hillary Clinton campaign is doing all it can to encourage this narrative. From Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti:

Clinton’s team and her supportive super PAC, Priorities USA Action, have booked tens of millions of dollars worth of television airtime for Trump-savaging ads over the coming stretch, but Trump’s campaign has promised to go on air only in the coming week, pulling together a small buy that isn’t supplemented by much super-PAC firepower as major Republican donors remain on the sidelines.

Clinton’s cash-rich camp, meanwhile, has been eager to expand the map, adding an initial Arizona purchase to its portfolio last week, while leaders of the super PAC have been meeting and holding conference calls to consider expanding into Arizona and Georgia — two states where the group has been actively polling for weeks.

Is it a ruse to force Donald Trump’s campaign to shift resources to Georgia, or are the polls showing a glimmer of hope for Clinton? Or a little of both? Either way, a new Clinton front in Georgia would be another step turning the once solid South into a purply stew.

More: Why the South is anything but solid for either Clinton or Trump

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Congress is back in Washington today after seven weeks away. There’s plenty to be done before the election, including funding the government and chipping in some new funding to combat the Zika virus.

The four-week work period also gives lawmakers one final chance to advance their pet projects before voters hit the polls. For Atlanta Democrat David Scott, that includes a pair of bills aimed at bolstering work opportunities for African-Americans, particularly young men who have been hit by persistently high unemployment rates.

One of the bills he’s looking to introduce soon would create a new $19 million pot of money for 19 historically black colleges and universities, including Georgia’s Fort Valley State University, for scholarships and loan forgiveness for students going into agriculture-related fields. Scott’s office said the bill would help provide some new energy to a field that’s grown increasingly old in recent years.

The other builds off an earlier effort related to the Keystone pipeline and would incentivize businesses, contractors and labor unions to recruit, hire and train black men under the age of 39, primarily for infrastructure-related work.

Scott is running unopposed this November.

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Ever since Democrat Jim Barksdale entered the race for U.S. Senate, we’ve pestered him about how much of his own money he’s willing to put into his bid against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.

The Buckhead investment manager, who has already spent more than $3 million, recently gave Politico.com the same answer he’s given us, one that could cause Republicans to award him a new nickname: Tightwad. From Politico:

Self-funding Democrat Jim Barksdale is starting to gain traction in polls that also show Clinton in a tight battle with Trump. Barksdale won’t say how much he’s prepared to spend fighting for Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat, but he has joked he’s a “tightwad” who wouldn’t shell out more than $20 million.

“Georgia can turn blue very easily,” Barksdale said in an interview. “The things Trump has said have been very alarming, and I don’t envy [Isakson’s] situation. He’s trying to play it in a way where he doesn’t lose Trump voters.”

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Speaking of the U.S. Senate race in Georgia: The Donald Trump effect has caused a few national groups to view the contest as competitive. But most still see GOP incumbent Johnny Isakson as the heavy favorite.

Politico recently ranked the race as number 13 on its list of the 15 most competitive Senate contests for the first time, and Larry Sabato over at the University of Virginia now considers the race a “likely Republican” win as opposed to “safe Republican.”


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