A different poll, this one from Washington Post/ABC News suggests that part of Donald Trump's (thankfully) dismal showing in the latest polls stems in part from the manner in which he blew his opportunity at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Of course, subsequent self-created gaffes haven't helped him either. The problem, in my view, is that rather than embody an effort to expand his appeal, Trump focused on exciting his base, a group that many Americans view as downright scary people given their racism, homophobia, and overall misogyny. A piece in the Washington Post looks at Trump's convention which ultimately cause fewer people to want to support him. Here are highlights:
Conventions are not complicated things. They are a few nights' worth of free media attention, during which each political party can make its best case to voters for the general election. There's lots of ceremony and far, far too many speakers, but at the end of the day, it's just one long ad for a candidate — and, essentially, the only time during the campaign when this happens.As we've noted before, Donald Trump blew it. Gallup has been tracking the response from voters to conventions since 1984, and the Republican National Convention of 2016 was the first for which more people said it made them less likely to back the candidate.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday includes data that gives a bit more insight into just how Trump managed to make his position worse.
Before the conventions, the plurality of support each candidate received was thanks to people who wanted to vote against the alternative. In other words, most people who said they were backing Hillary Clinton were backing her because they wanted to see Trump lose, and vice versa.
After the conventions, though, that changed: A slight plurality of Clinton supporters now back her because they want her to be the president.
The big change was with independents. Independents who supported Clinton before the conventions were far more likely to say that it was out of opposition to Trump, by a 2-to-1 margin; after the convention, support for Clinton from independents was only slightly more because they opposed Trump. In fact, independents back Clinton out of enthusiasm for her at the exact same margin that Republicans back Trump out of enthusiasm for him (45 percent of each group).
There was also a big shift in favorability ratings for Clinton after the conventions. Before, her net favorability — those viewing her favorably minus those viewing her unfavorably — was at minus-17. After, she improved to minus-6. Trump's numbers moved much less, from minus-28 to minus-25.
In other words, the conventions didn't unify Republicans around Trump. The conventions made the rift in the party worse. Part of this is certainly that Clinton's convention was successful — and that the Democrats' outreach to Republican moderates had an effect. But part of it was also clearly that Trump's convention was a flop.
Again, I believe that Trump's dark convention highlighted the hatred and fear of others and/or change that motivates the GOP base. It's ugly and many independents were forced to face that reality. If Trump did anything positive, it was to show the true foul face of today's GOP.