A raft of new national and battleground polls released Thursday found Donald Trump slipping well behind Hillary Clinton one week after the end of the Democratic convention, and as the Republican nominee reels from a public feud with the parents of a slain Muslim American soldier.
"There has clearly been a significant movement toward Clinton in the last week," said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and polling analyst for Bloomberg Politics. "Some of it is a Clinton post-convention bounce, but more of it seems to be a Trump deflation or implosion."
A new poll in Pennsylvania, seen by Trump's top strategists as a crucial bellwether, finds him trailing Clinton by 11 points (49 percent to 38 percent) among likely voters surveyed by Franklin & Marshall College.
An electoral vote-rich state that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost by just 5 points, the Keystone State is arguably a must-win battleground for Trump due to demographics that are uniquely suited to his appeal. It is 20 percent whiter than the U.S. as a whole, and has a large working class base that is reeling from the loss of manufacturing jobs and sympathetic to Trump's anti-trade views.
The survey found that Trump's advantages among white men and voters without a college degree are erased by his larger deficits among white women and college graduates. And he's down by 69 points among nonwhite voters, the poll found.
"Given the fact that his assault on Hispanics has made it far more difficult to win many of the other swing states—like Colorado, Nevada and Florida—then Pennsylvania becomes ever more critical for Trump to put the pieces together to get to 270 electoral votes," said Whit Ayres, a leading Republican pollster.
"It's the kind of place that you'd normally think would be fertile ground for Trump," Ayres said, before contending that "absolutely nothing has happened" to suggest Trump can be the first Republican since 1988 to paint Pennsylvania red.
Other battleground state polls of likely voters are also signaling trouble.
In Michigan, another Democratic-leaning Rust Belt state that Trump is trying to put in play, he trails Clinton by nine points (41 percent to 32 percent) in a survey by Detroit News and WDIV-TV.
In Florida, an electorally rich and closely-divided state, Trump trailed Clinton by six points (48 percent to 42 percent) in a Suffolk University poll.
In New Hampshire, a purple state that was the site of Trump's first blowout victory in the Republican primary, he's down by a whopping 15 points (47 percent to 32 percent) against Clinton, according to a WBUR poll.
Nationally, the picture isn't much better.
A McClatchy/Marist national poll found Trump down 15 points among registered voters (up from his three-point deficit last month), a bigger gap than former Republican nominee Mitt Romney trailed by in any 2012 poll recorded by RealClearPolitics, which closely tracks presidential election surveys.
"Real talk: Trump is cratering," Republican pollster Frank Luntz tweeted in response to the McClatchy survey. "He needs to overhaul his general-election strategy if he wants to have any hope of winning in 95 days."
Luntz noted that Trump "lost his big leads with independent voters" in prior surveys.
A NBC/Wall Street Journal national survey found Trump trailing Clinton by 9 points (up from five points last month).
Ayres cautioned that polls at this juncture early may yet be fluid.
"The general rule is that you wait a couple of weeks after both conventions finish. Before you start assuming that polls are particularly predictive," he said. "Around the middle of August we'll start to get a sense of where the race stands after the dust settles from the Democratic convention and the Trump convention."
Goldstein said polling averages are more instructive than any one poll, but that a steady Clinton lead of 7 or 8 points could harm Republicans down the ballot.
"Fifteen points is more than Ronald Reagan won in his landslide victories," he said. "If you're in a world where it's over 10, then this is a landslide of historic proportions."
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