PHILADELPHIA – When it comes to Donald Trump and the polls, the media are, well, bouncing around.
As Hillary Clinton struggles to present an image of unity here in Philadelphia, Trump either did or didn’t get a bounce from the Cleveland convention. It’s as simple as that.
Now there’s a school of thought that it’s pointless to talk about such polling boosts in the era of back-to-back conventions, that it’s all kind of mashed together and you have to wait until both party gatherings are over. But the press loves those bounce stories.
So we have Politico: “New poll: No convention bounce for Trump.”
And we have The Hill: “Dems fret over Trump bounce.”
And The Blaze: “Poll: Trump Leads Clinton Nationally After Convention Bounce.”
NBC: “Poll: No Post-Convention Bounce for Donald Trump.”
And CNN: “Donald Trump Bounces into Lead.”
Which is it, guys?
The CNN poll gives Trump a 5-point lead over Clinton, 44-39, in a four-way matchup. That represents an increase of 6 percentage points for Trump.
But an NBC/Survey Monkey poll has Trump effectively tied, trailing Clinton 46-45. That’s an online survey.
So here’s my take: At the very least, we have a highly competitive race. Now think about that for a second.
Most of the media spent last week describing the GOP convention as a huge flop. The Republicans were divided, Melania’s speech created a frenzy, Ted Cruz got booed for his non-endorsement, and Trump’s speech was widely panned as a dark and fear-mongering affair with little optimism or uplift.
Either the press was wrong, or the public saw a very different convention.
And if anything, the divisions at the Democratic gathering here in Philadelphia are worse, with Bernie backers booing their butts off and Debbie Wasserman Schultz ousted as party chair.
Of course, the Democrats could paper this over with strong speeches and Clinton could get her own bump.
Nate Silver, the 538 data guru who famously said Trump had virtually no chance to win the nomination--he says he wasn’t relying on polls—stunned people by giving Trump more than a 50 percent chance of winning in November. As of today, though, he says Hillary has a 53.2 percent chance of taking the White House (I love the decimal-point precision).
“It isn’t straightforward to measure Trump’s convention bounce because he was already gaining ground on Clinton heading into the conventions, narrowing what had been a 6- to 7-point national lead for Clinton in June into roughly a 3-point lead instead. For instance, the CNN poll shows a massive 10-percentage-point swing toward Trump, but its previous poll was taken in mid-June, at a high-water mark for Clinton. By contrast, CBS News shows Trump gaining only 1 percentage point, but its previous poll was conducted earlier this month, shortly after the controversy over Clinton’s email scandal resurfaced.”
Polls are ephemeral, of course, and only the swing-state matchups really count. But for the moment, at least, we have a horse race.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.