It looks like Donald Trump's message of fear and loathing in America at last week's convention has given him the campaign boost he was looking for, particularly among white voters, according to CNN's latest polling.
Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.
There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
The new findings mark Trump's best showing in a CNN/ORC Poll against Clinton since September 2015. Trump's new edge rests largely on increased support among independents, 43% of whom said that Trump's convention in Cleveland left them more likely to back him, while 41% were dissuaded. Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein.
Trump's newfound lead is also boosted by a sharp increase in support from whites without college degrees. In the new poll they break 62% for Trump to 23% for Clinton, while whites who hold at least a bachelor's degree have actually tilted more pro-Clinton since the convention (from a 40% to 40% split pre-convention to a 44% Clinton to 39% Trump divide now).
The poll also reflects a sharpening of the education divide among whites that has been prevalent throughout the campaign. Among white voters with college degrees, Clinton actually gained ground compared with pre-convention results, going from an even 40% to 40% split to a 44% to 39% edge over Trump. That while Trump expanded his lead with white voters who do not hold a college degree from a 51% to 31% lead before the convention to a 62% to 23% lead now.
Beyond boosting his overall support, Trump's favorability rating is also on the rise (46% of registered voters say they have a positive view, up from 39% pre-convention), while his advantage over Clinton on handling top issues climbs. He now holds double-digit margins over Clinton as more trusted on the economy and terrorism. Trump also cut into Clinton's edge on managing foreign policy (50% said they trusted her more, down from 57% pre-convention).
So yes, Trump actually scared off white voters with college degrees and gave Clinton a five-point edge from a tie, but he effectively doubled his 20-point lead among white voters without a college degree to nearly 40 points.
That's what he was shooting for, and that's what he got. Despite the notion that the GOP convention was a dumpster fire, it was actually extremely successful in solidifying the working-class white vote behind Trump. The 50-state Southern Strategy is starting to pay off.
Fear. It works, at least in the short term. Morning Consult's polling finds a similar bounce for Trump as a result.
Now we'll see what Clinton can do to in order to swing things the other way as we head into the final three months of the campaign. I have some issues with CNN's sampling that raises a few questions too,
Finally, after saying all that some perspective here: if this is the best Trump can do after his convention bounce, then he's still in trouble come November.
You're up, Madam Secretary.