- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2016

PHILADELPHIA | Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has surged to a lead in the polls after his party’s national convention last week, powered by a newly unified GOP behind him and independent voters giving him a second look.

A series of post-convention polls gives Mr. Trump the advantage over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with some surveys showing the billionaire businessman’s speech to close out the four-day gathering in Cleveland played well with those who saw it.

The poll by CNN/ORC put Mr. Trump up 3 percentage points over Mrs. Clinton — an 11-point swing from its previous survey in June, when he trailed by 8 points. A poll by analysis firm Morning Consult gave Mr. Trump a 4-point lead, 44-40, and a CBS News survey put him up 44-43 over Mrs. Clinton.

“We had, like, the biggest bounce that anyone can remember,” Mr. Trump, a notorious poll-watcher, said while campaigning in Virginia. “We’re leading. We’re actually leading in the polls.”

Republicans breathed a sigh of relief after a convention that began with divisive intraparty battles and continued with Sen. Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Mr. Trump — though it also featured Trump endorsements from Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other party leaders.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign dismissed the polling data, saying it’s expecting the Republican divisions to re-emerge and that Mr. Trump will suffer for the tone of his convention.

“Boy, was it depressing. I mean, it was all doom and gloom, and he failed to bring his party together,” said Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager.

Mr. Mook said Mr. Trump’s surge in the polls was the same as many other candidates have seen — what political scientists call a “convention bump.” He said he will wait a couple of weeks before taking the temperature of the electorate.

“I would kind of suspend any polling analysis until after our convention, and then we can interpret once voters have had a chance to see both sides of the argument, and both sides have had the four days of convention and the communication that happens during that,” he told reporters hours before Democrats gaveled in the first day of their convention.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Trump is perhaps better poised now than at any other time in the campaign.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Mr. Trump an overall lead for the first time since May.

FiveThirtyEight.com, an analytics website, said Mr. Trump was gaining on Mrs. Clinton ahead of the convention, so it’s not clear how much of his current showing is because of a convention bounce.

The website’s “now-cast” — an evaluation of the current electoral battlefield — even says that if the election were to happen right now, Mr. Trump would probably win.

“It suggests that in an election held today, Trump would be a narrow favorite, with a 57 percent chance of winning the Electoral College,” Nate Silver, founder of the website, wrote.

He cautioned that conventions are tricky times to sound out voters. In 2008, then-GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin had pulled even with then-candidate Barack Obama.

Still, CNN’s poll showed Mr. Trump’s favorability rising in the wake of the convention, with his positive rating up from 39 percent to 46 percent. He also cut into Mrs. Clinton’s lead on issues such as handling foreign policy.

The CNN poll showed Mr. Trump soaring among independent voters and stopping them from fleeing to third-party candidates.

He now wins 46 percent support among the key swing group, while Mrs. Clinton has 28 percent support, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson wins 15 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein garners 4 percent. In the previous CNN poll, Mr. Johnson was at 22 percent and Ms. Stein at 10 percent.

Mrs. Clinton is now viewed as not honest or trustworthy by some 68 percent of those surveyed — a record for the CNN poll.

There was one outlier in the polling — a YouGov/Economist survey taken Saturday and Sunday that found Mrs. Clinton with a 5-point lead in a head-to-head matchup. That shrinks to 2 points when Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein are factored into the equation.

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