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The latest poll of the presidential race in Pennsylvania showed Hillary Clinton with a 6-point lead over Donald Trump. But the polls that came out last week showed Clinton with a 9-point lead in one and a 4-point lead in the other.
And when Real Clear Politics averaged the most recent polls together, it actually showed Trump polling slightly closer to Clinton than before the “Access Hollywood” tape was published by the Washington Post.
It’s been an interesting last several weeks and months for presidential race polls in Pennsylvania. Here are a few observations to better put into perspective how they’ve changed.
What the most reputed polls are saying
Five Thirty Eight assigns each poll a letter grade. Six polls with a grade of at least an A- have been conducted for Pennsylvania voters in the last month. Here’s what the most recent version of each those polls has for Trump-Clinton in PA.
- Quinnipiac (A-), Oct. 10-16: Clinton +6
- Bloomberg (A+), Oct.7-11: Clinton +9
- Ipsos (A-), Oct. 7-11: Clinton +4
- Marist/NBC (A), Oct. 3-6, Clinton +12
- Monmouth (A+), Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Clinton +10
- CNN (A-), Sept. 20-25, Clinton +1
So after the “Access Hollywood” tapes it’s either Clinton by 6, 9 or 4, with three reputed polls carrying different results.
The biggest momentum shifts in Pennsylvania
Nationally, Clinton and Trump were relatively close in most polls until the Democratic National Convention. After Clinton’s speech and Trump’s attacking of Khizr Khan, Clinton started to pull away. By September the polls started tightening again. Then in early October the “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked, and Clinton again extended her lead.
Did Pennsylvania follow the same pattern? Sort of. There was a clear bump in support for Clinton after the DNC. On July 25, the start of the convention, Real Clear Politics had Clinton’s average polling lead in Pennsylvania at 3.2. By August 4, it had grown to eight.
It’s a little different with the “Access Hollywood” tapes. The highly-reputed Monmouth and Marist/NBC polls taken slightly before the “Access Hollywood” tape’s release showed Clinton with a double-digit margin. The three polls taken since then have it a +9 for Clinton at the highest and +4 at the lowest. The Real Clear Politics average as of Monday was +6.7 for Clinton, which is actually lower than it was the day the Washington Post published the tapes (+7.5).
The one week Pennsylvania really liked Trump
Polls were the tightest in Pennsylvania in late June. The Real Clear Politics average showed Clinton’s lead at +.5 from June 21 to June 26. Strangely, this was at a time when Clinton’s polling lead was extending nationally.
Nothing is apparent for why he was polling so high during that stretch. He wasn’t visiting Pennsylvania often and, by Trump standards, wasn’t attracting an outsized amount of media attention at the time. Brexit happened on June 24, leading to a momentary dip in the economy.
By the start of July, Clinton’s average polling lead had climbed back to two points, and it hasn’t dipped below that since.
Almost nothing has changed since the primary
Three weeks before the election, in terms of margin, Pennsylvania is about the same as it was in April. On April 27, the day after the primary, Clinton’s Real Clear Politics polling average was +7.4. Now it’s +6.7.
Despite a few moves in each direction, we’re essentially thinking right now about Trump and Clinton the same way we were back then.