This must be why Democrats like early voting so much.
A party that relies on “low-information” voters to push its candidates over the line has a vested interest in getting voters to the polls as quickly as possible, before all the information they might need to make an informed decision becomes available.
And as the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows, the newest information voters are getting is hurting Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes – badly.
In a remarkable turnaround, Republican nominee Donald Trump is actually leading Democrat Clinton by a slim percentage point in the poll released Tuesday, a 13-point change in the race over the same poll last week, and the first time since May that Trump has come out on top in this survey.
According to ABC News:
Forty-six percent of likely voters support Trump in the latest results, with 45 percent for Clinton. Taking it to the decimal for illustrative purposes, a mere .7 of a percentage point divides them. Third-party candidate Gary Johnson has 3 percent, a new low; Jill Stein, 2 percent.
One big difference is the enthusiasm behind the vote. With the Clinton campaign battered by Friday’s bombshell announcement that the FBI is investigating a new angle of the email scandal Clinton’s crowd had hoped was behind her, supporters’ enthusiasm lost 7 points over the weekend, ABC reported.
Considering the poll is driven by ABC — with its chief political correspondent being Clinton toady George Stephanopoulos — and the notoriously liberal Washington Post — which Trump once banned from his press pool — the news must have been wrenching to report.
Enthusiasm behind Trump – the kind of fervid support among Republican primary voters that propelled him to the GOP nomination in the first place – is now 10 points higher than it is for Clinton, according to The Washington Post, with 53 percent of survey respondents reporting they were “very enthusiastic” about voting for him, compared to 43 percent who said the same about Clinton.
Before the weekend, Trump led that number by 53 percent to 51 percent. That’s another crippling loss for the former secretary of state.
Trump and his campaign, of course, were loving the news.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2016
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 1, 2016
There are a couple things worth nothing here. First, it’s easy to believe that news that the FBI is investigating a party’s nominee for president could dampen enthusiasm for voting among the party’s rank and file. Even Democrats would probably find distasteful the idea of a president-elect — or a sitting president for that matter — under indictment (though they didn’t have much problem rallying around Bill Clinton when he was impeached on perjury charges).
But could anyone – even liberals – seriously believe that more than half of Hillary Clinton voters were actually enthusiastic about the “chosen one?”
Long before Friday’s announcement, hacked in-house Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks and DCLeaks proved that the DNC had rigged the party’s primary process to basically steal the nomination for Hillary Clinton over chief rival, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
A party that was assured of its voters’ enthusiastic backing for a candidate wouldn’t have to steal the primary election to make sure the preferred nominee got the nod.
Considering Clinton’s campaign is about as spontaneous as the Politburo meetings to pick a new secretary general for the USSR used to be, enthusiasm isn’t really the key to the final outcome.
Second, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out, a 13-point change in a poll over the course of a week is literally unbelievable. The latest numbers are just reflecting that Trump’s support has always been higher than the mainstream media credited, and support for Hillary lower than the media would have the country believe, Gingrich wrote in a Twitter posting.
Washington Post-ABC poll is an absurdity. Trump has not moved up 13 points in the last 8 days.he was NEVER 12 points behind. Ignore polls
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 1, 2016
But here’s where the importance of early voting comes in. As ABC News put it: “Clinton’s support rests in part on early voting: A fifth of those identified as likely voters (21 percent) say they’ve in fact already voted.”
Early voting reflects a party’s organizational strength, and the Democrat ground game has been superior in the Obama Era. It also gets voters to the polls before damaging information might arise about a deeply flawed candidate.
For instance, if a Democrat candidate for president was suddenly linked to an FBI investigation that was tied into the spouse of a close aide exchanging sexually charged messages with an underage girl, it just might depress voter turnout – or at the least, enthusiasm. (If it had been a Republican candidate disgracing the presidential race like that, it would be all over but the shouting by now, but that’s a separate subject.)
The ABC News/Washington Post poll is making headlines because of Trump’s sudden lead and its prominence as the first big one out after the Comey announcement, but other polls are sure to follow bringing similar news about Clinton’s decline from her double-digit lead a week ago.
The often-referenced Real Clear Politics average of polls shows the Clinton lead down to just over 2 points, after having been as high as 7 less than two weeks ago.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the election is a week from now. But it’s why they love early voting so much.