Donald Trump appears to have eliminated Hillary Clinton’s lead in the wake of the FBI’s investigation of her email practices, according to several new polls – even surging ahead of her in one national survey – all indicating that the issue of trust is weighing heavily on voters.
A Rasmussen Reports survey showed Trump with his largest lead yet, 44-37 percent. The finding is somewhat of an outlier, but a New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday also showed the race closing to a draw, with the presumptive 2016 rivals each polling at 40 percent.
These and other polls suggest the November election could turn on any number of factors – ranging from how undecided voters trend to whether Bernie Sanders supporters come around to Clinton to whether disaffected conservatives get on board with Trump.
Both polls were taken after the FBI and Justice Department decided not to pursue charges over Clinton’s use of a personal email and server while secretary of state. While Clinton’s campaign hailed the decision and sought to move past the controversy, her public image was hurt as FBI Director James Comey called her actions “extremely careless” and contradicted several of Clinton’s public assertions about her email use.
The New York Times/CBS poll, calling Clinton “wounded” by the scandal, showed 67 percent of voters think she’s not honest and trustworthy, representing a 5-point increase from a similar poll last month. Neither candidate scores well on that question – with Trump distrusted by 62 percent of voters.
The national polls, however, are separate from those testing the battlegrounds, which is where races are lost or won -- and where surveys show a mixed picture.
A Quinnipiac survey released Wednesday showed Trump taking a slight 42-39 percent lead in the critical swing state of Florida. The same survey showed the candidates tied in Ohio and virtually tied in Pennsylvania.
Yet a Fox News poll showed Clinton leading Trump by 10 points in Colorado, and by 7 points in Virginia.
Taken together, the polls show the 2016 race as unpredictable as ever, and mark a turnaround from a month ago when Clinton led by double-digits nationally in several polls as both candidates essentially wrapped up their nomination races.
Another X-factor is the candidates’ vice presidential choices and any bump they may be able to get out of their respective party conventions.
The Republican National Convention in Cleveland kicks off Monday, and Trump is expected to announce his vice presidential pick Friday morning. He is thought to have narrowed it down to a handful of contenders, including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The Democratic National Convention will be held the following week in Philadelphia.
The New York Times/CBS poll of 1,358 registered voters was taken July 8-12. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted July 12-13, also with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.