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Donald Trump’s Post-Convention Bump Puts Him Ahead of Hillary Clinton

Republican National Convention: Day FourRepublican National Convention: Day Four
For all its hiccups, the RNC benefited Trump.Photograph by John Moore Getty Images

Turns out all the chaos and controversy on display at the Republican National Convention last week didn’t hurt Donald Trump. In fact, it helped him.

A new poll by CNN/ORC found that in a four-way contest with third-party candidates Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, Trump leads Hillary Clinton 44% to 39%. In a two-way head-to-head match up with Clinton, he’s ahead 48% to 45%. It’s his best showing against his Democratic opponent in a CNN/ORC poll since September 2015.

Trump’s lead in one-on-one competition with Clinton is the result of a six-point bump that seems to be the result of his campaign’s performance at the RNC. CNN reports that a nominating convention hasn’t produced such a significant boost since 2000, when candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush both experienced eight-point jolts.


Trump’s gains have come mainly among independents, 43% of whom said the convention in Cleveland last week made them more likely to back Trump. Forty-one percent of independents said the confab turned them off to Trump. Before the RNC, 34% of independents supported Clinton, and 31% were for Trump, while 22% and 10% backed Johnson and Stein, respectively. Post-RNC, 46% of independents back Trump, while 28% align with Clinton, 15% are with Johnson, and 4% are with Stein.

The poll also indicates that the convention deepened the educational divide among white voters. Clinton actually gained ground among whites with a college degree, capturing a 44% to 39% edge over Trump, compared to the 40% to 40% split that existed before the convention. Among whites without a college degree though, Trump went from a 51% to 31% lead over Clinton before the convention to a 62% to 23% advantage now.

The convention also boosted Trump’s favorability rating to 46% from 39% and gave him a double-digit lead over Clinton when it comes to trustworthiness on the economy and terrorism.

The stat that might be most troubling for the Clinton campaign is the 68% of people who say she is not honest and trustworthy, which represents her worst showing in CNN/ORC polling.

The poll was conducted by telephone from July 22 to July 24 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, and its results have a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

A CBS poll released Monday cast the contest between Trump and Clinton as a tie, with both candidates garnering the support of 42% of voters. Each received a two-point bump since before the RNC and before Clinton announced Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. When “leaners” are included—voters who are undecided when initially asked about their preference—Trump edges out Clinton by one point.

Polls conducted after the nominating conventions should be considered with a fair helping of skepticism, according to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. He recently issued a note of caution about reading too far into post-confab polls. He says the convention “bounce”—or lack thereof—for both candidates will be harder to interpret this year because there was so much movement in polls leading up to the events as Trump clawed into Clinton’s lead.

Clinton’s own convention gets underway Monday night in Philadelphia, but it will kick off under a cloud of controversy produced by the resignation of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who said she will step down after leaked emails exposed the DNC’s favoritism toward Clinton in the primaries. Clinton’s opponent during primary season, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is expected to speak on her behalf at the event Monday night.