Whatever arguments we’ve had about the polls this week will soon be swamped by the reaction to Monday’s presidential debate. As a rough guide, I’d expect us to have some initial sense of how the debate has moved the numbers by Thursday or Friday based on quick-turnaround polls, and a clearer one by next Sunday or so, when an array of higher-quality polls will begin to report their post-debate results as well.
But in the meantime, let’s take one more step back and ask our usual collection of 10 questions about where the presidential race stands. Think of these as time capsules of a sort; you can find previous editions here (July 15), here (Aug. 15) and here (Sept. 6).
Hillary Clinton, but tenuously. There were some semantic debates on Twitter this morning after ABC News and the Washington Post released their new national poll that showed Clinton 2 points ahead of Donald Trump. Did the Post convey the right impression in describing the race as a “virtual dead heat” in its headline?
I might have chosen slightly different vocabulary: “Clinton has razor-thin advantage,” or something like that. But it’s basically correct, at least based on the FiveThirtyEight forecast, to characterize the election as both close and competitive. The ABC News/Post poll is typical of recent national polls, which have Clinton up by about 2 points on average. (That average includes some high-quality polls that have Clinton ahead by as many as 6 points, but also a handful of others that show Trump with a lead.) Meanwhile, in the Electoral College, Clinton is leading in the states she needs to win, but only in those states, and not by all that much. Trump is one string of good polls in Pennsylvania or Colorado or …