Politics

Behind the Poll Trump Loves to Win

LA Times/USC poll has entirely unique methodology and is filled with bad news for Clinton

For supporters of Republican Donald  Trump looking for uplifting news, the first poll to consult each morning is likely the one put out every day by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California — the USC Dornsife/LA Times Daybreak Poll, which gave Trump the edge, 46.3 percent to Clinton’s 42.2 percent, on Wednesday.

The poll has often shown Trump leading, even when most other national polls had him trailing Clinton, or leading by wider margins than other polls. During the Democratic National Convention, Trump peaked at 47.4 percent. He broke that record recently, on Monday, when he polled at 47.9 percent — to Clinton’s 41.1 percent.

On Wednesday, the poll had Trump leading in all age groups — even the volatile age range between 18 and 34.

The poll is fairly unorthodox in how it samples likely voters. The results are based on “repeated participation” by a diverse panel of Americans across the nation, according to a university press release.

In other words, the LA Times/USC poll is using the same pool of respondents, again and again, every day. The poll tracks about 3,200 such voters, and will until Election Day.

One advantage to the poll is that shifts it sees in the data are the result of the people changing their opinions, said Arie Kapteyn, a professor of research and economics.

[lz_table title=”Recent national polls” source=”Real Clear Politics”]
Likely voters

|USC/LA Times
Donald Trump (R), 46%
Hillary Clinton (D), 42%
|NBC News/WSJ
Donald Trump (R), 37%
Hillary Clinton (D), 43%
|Reuters
Donald Trump (R), 39%
Hillary Clinton (D), 37%
|CBS News/NY Times
Donald Trump (R), 42%
Hillary Clinton (D), 42%
|The Economist
Donald Trump (R), 38%
Hillary Clinton (D), 40%
[/lz_table]

Indeed, on Sept. 11, Clinton was leading Trump, 45 percent to 43.6 percent. But as health questions swirled, and as her “basket of deplorables” remark made its way through the news, Trump rose steadily. On Friday, Clinton bottomed out at 41 percent, as Trump approached 48 percent.

The poll has 3,200 participants. Of those, 450 are invited daily to participate in the Daybreak Poll to ensure a balanced sample, according to USC officials.

[lz_jwplayer video=HG8PgmFz]

“Each day at midnight, researchers update the results, which are based on a week’s worth of responses,” according to a USC statement on the poll.

The poll usually has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.

The university keeps the poll simple. It asks 450 people a day if they will vote in the presidential election; if they will vote for Clinton, Trump, or someone else; and which candidate do the respondents think will win. One or two extra questions may be added.

The LA Times/USC poll is respected enough to be cited by RealClearPolitics, and included in their average of national polls.

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The poll doesn’t just flout conventional wisdom in its head-to-head take. On Wednesday, the poll had Trump leading in all age groups — even the volatile age range between 18 and 34.

The polls find Trump is winning white voters by a margin of 24.5 percent. But his Hispanic support is surprisingly solid — he’s winning 36.1 percent of them. By comparison, President George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, the highest percentage since 1980. And Romney only got 27 percent of their vote in 2012.

But the LA Times/USC poll is not all good news for Trump. A crucial component of winning is people expecting you to. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sometimes led President Barack Obama in 2012, but he rarely convinced a majority of Americans polled that he could win.

Likewise, Hillary Clinton has always been expected to win by the poll’s respondents. As of Wednesday, 50.1 percent think Clinton will win. Only 44.1 percent think Trump will win.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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