For months, Republican rivals to Donald Trump were proclaiming that nominating him would be an electoral disaster, given the assumption he could not win a general election.
Pundits have been saying the same thing, noting that Trump’s historically high unfavorable ratings, especially among women and Hispanics, would doom his general election candidacy.
But recent polls show that these assessments may need dramatic revision. There were some early signs several weeks ago that suggested Trump might be more competitive in a general election than some soothsayers were predicting.
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There was a George Washington University Battleground poll that had shown Clinton with a statistically insignificant three-point lead over Trump, a Quinnipiac poll taken in early May that showed Clinton and Trump running dead even in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and an earlier Rasmussen poll—later widely dismissed—that showed Clinton and Trump in a dead heat. But for months, most national polls have shown Trump trailing by anywhere from 8 to 12 points among registered voters, a margin confirmed by the Real Clear Politics (RCP) polling average, and which, for a stretch from February to April, had Clinton leading in every head-to-head matchup.
That appears to have changed—and changed dramatically. Within the last 10 days, five polls have shown the race essentially a dead heat, with Trump actually leading by statistically insignificant margins in three of these polls.
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