(REAL CLEAR POLITICS)
By Bill Scher
“Don't think people are really grasping how plausible it is that Trump could become president. It's a close election right now,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver warned in a Friday tweet. This is mathematically true. The RealClearPolitics polling average when he said it had Clinton up only by 2.7 points in a two-way matchup, and 3.6 in a four-way with Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson. After CNN and CBS polls were released Monday morning, the race is even tighter, with Trump slightly ahead in the two-way race and Clinton's lead in the four-way down to just 0.6 points.
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But what’s mathematically true for the moment doesn’t capture the full story of the race so far. The general tightening of the race is mostly because Clinton’s number has sagged in July, not that Trump has experienced a great surge of support.
In June, he was scraping bottom at 38 percent. After an initial post-convention bounce, he’s up to a less pathetic 44 percent. But that number ties his peak. Trump has never touched the 45 percent mark in the general election RCP average throughout the entirety of the campaign, suggesting he’s up against a hard ceiling, while Clinton has spent considerable time above it. Following Trump’s disorganized and divisive convention, a solid Democratic show this week that impresses both the bruised Sanders wing and hesitant swing voters could well get Clinton back into the upper 40s, positioning her for an outright majority on Election Day.