There are a number of reasons we should not get overly excited about national polls or national poll averages in the presidential election. First, the important polls are at the state level – those were much more predictive than national polls in 2012, some of which showed Romney winning all the way to the end. Second, polls are snapshots, and certain points in the race can be unrepresentative – notably the past month, after Donald Trump’s primary opponents dropped out but while Hillary Clinton was still fending off Bernie Sanders (the last Democratic primary is next Tuesday in D.C.). Third, we’re still a ways to go from polls having a reliable likely-voter filter. And fourth, a number of polls are showing unreasonably large numbers of undecided voters, reflecting the awfulness of the two candidates but not really reflecting how the actual voting would play out.
All that being the case, it’s still got to hurt for Trump to see today’s Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll. In the immediate aftermath of winning Indiana and knocking out Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Trump surged from a double-digit deficit to a lead (albeit three tenths of a point, 40.2 to 39.9) on May 9, and was effectively tied (40.5 to 40.4) on May 11. But today’s tracker shows Trump deep in the dumps, down 46.0 to 34.8, a deficit of more than 11 points (albeit with an improbable 19.2% undecided). This on the heels of falling behind in the latest Fox News and Rasmussen polls.
But worse than that: the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracker was Trump’s favorite poll during the primaries, tweeted by him repeatedly and touted relentlessly by his supporters. It was frequently more favorable to Trump in the primaries than other polls. If the latest trend of bad polls continue, Trump will be hard-pressed to find a new favorite pollster.