Did Trump Just Take The Lead? You Betcha.

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump’s speech on Thursday night, which I effusively called the “speech to end all speeches,” received terrible reviews from the elites within the media industrial complex. They called it “dark.” They argued he used a “divisive” tone. They said it would doom his campaign. And, as usual, the media elites got it wrong.

Trump’s speech wasn’t intended for the political establishment living comfortably in Washington. His speech was designed to drive home a message to the average American voter, to those struggling to get ahead, to those in fear for America’s future, to those who have lost hope.

And it looks like Trump connected in a big way according to recent polling data. For the first time in the 2016 election cycle, Trump now leads Hillary Clinton in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Here are the four most recent polls that have been conducted post-convention:

  • Gravis: Trump, 51 percent; Clinton, 49 percent
  • LA Times/USC: Trump, 45 percent; Clinton, 41 percent
  • CNN/ORC: Trump, 48 percent; Clinton, 45 percent
  • CBS News: Trump, 44 percent; Clinton, 43 percent

If you take an average of just these four polls, Trump now leads Clinton 47.0 percent to 44.5 percent.

Now before you start screaming “Make America Great Again” in gleeful exuberance, media pundits, who have such an impressive track record in this race of being dead wrong, want you to temper your enthusiasm. They want you to realize that this polling is merely a “post-convention bump.”

This cannot stand, they say. He can’t actually win, they say.

I think it will stand, and I think he can win. Trump is the only candidate in this race who is speaking to the problems of working-class Americans. He is the only candidate willing to condemn bad trade deals that send American jobs to China or Mexico. He is the only candidate addressing the chronic issue of stagnant wages. He is the only candidate addressing the dual threat of radical Islamic terrorism and domestic terrorism against police officers.

This ain’t a bump. It’s a surge. It’s a harbinger of what’s to come.

FiveThirtyEight, an analytics-focused political blog, has developed three different forecasting models. All three of the models have moved in a decidedly pro-Trump direction in recent days. These models predict the likelihood of each candidate winning, not the total vote share.

FiveThirtyEight “polls-plus” forecast:

July 1:

  • Clinton: 72.3 percent
  • Trump: 27.7 percent

July 25:

  • Clinton: 58.2 percent
  • Trump: 41.7 percent

FiveThirtyEight “polls-only” forecast:

July 1:

  • Clinton: 78 percent
  • Trump: 22 percent

July 25:

  • Clinton: 53.7 percent
  • Trump: 46.2 percent

FiveThirtyEight “now-cast” (if the election were held today):

July 1:

  • Clinton: 76.6 percent
  • Trump: 23.4 percent

July 25:

  • Clinton: 42.5 percent
  • Trump: 57.5 percent

Huge movement, especially when Nate Silver, editor of FiveThirtyEight, very publicly pronounced Trump’s chances at about 20 percent just four weeks ago.

The Democratic National Convention is this week, so Clinton has an opportunity to quell Trump’s momentum. We will see if she can do it. My guess is that Trump maintains this small lead heading into the debates, proving that this is part of a long-term trend and not a momentary post-Republican convention blip.

It’s a whole new ball game, folks.

Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.