Even after the often messy, consistently off message Republican National Convention last week, Donald Trump has obtained a significant bounce in the polls.
The size of the bounce likely won’t really be understood until well after the fact. There are too many confounding factors, especially the ongoing Democrat National Convention, to really understand what the full impact was.
But as surprising as it may be, Trump did improve his standing with the American people. Even the polls that showed no statistical evidence of a bounce demonstrated this.
The reason why this is so important is history. No candidate in the modern era has failed to get a bounce, and more over, failed to take the lead after their convention, and then gone on to win the Presidency. The worst examples of this are John Kerry in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012, both of whom actually achieved ‘dead cat bounces’ after their conventions, and received no boost whatsoever.
Trump, by achieving both a post-convention bounce and a (albeit likely short-lived) national lead in the polls, at least is still in the game. This is quite nicely illustrated in Nate Silver’s election forecast, which for the time being gives Trump the upper hand:
Ultimately, no matter the size and long-term impact of the conventions, this tells us a few things about the electorate.
First, Trump is a unique candidate in the hallowed history of American politics. Predictions rarely are accurate in the short-term where he is concerned. He moves the electorate in a way we are not accustomed to.
Second, Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate who is unliked by the American people. She may be slightly more liked than Trump himself, but this is not something to necessarily be proud of, all things considered. She has utterly failed in changing the national perception that she is a classic politician who will lie about anything for personal benefit.
That said, is the election as close as it currently appears? For data, ask me again in one month. The Democrats will likely be successful in achieving their own bounce post-convention, which more than likely will wipe away any benefits Trump has achieved. Both parties will then unify as much as they are likely to for the rest of this cycle. Then we will know if Donald Trump is really in this game…or it is all an illusion.