Steve has observed that recent polls show Donald Trump running only slightly behind Hillary Clinton. He also suggests that Trump might really be ahead of Clinton, but that some respondents aren’t expressing their support for the tycoon to pollsters.
However, when it comes to projecting a winner in November, there’s a countervailing consideration. Trump probably has received a bounce by virtue of having locked up the nomination and ended the primary season. This means, for one thing, that he’s no longer under attack from rival candidates. It also means that the GOP has rallied around him to some extent.
Clinton may have effectively locked up the Democratic nomination, but she’s still competing in hotly contested primary races against Bernie Sanders. Thus, she is still under attack from Democrats. Indeed, the very fact that she has locked up the nomination even as Sanders continues to defeat her in primaries probably fuels resentment against her on the part of Sanders supporters. This may induce some of them to say they won’t support Clinton in November.
Once Clinton becomes the nominee, it’s likely that Democrats and left-leaning independents will coalesce around her candidacy. Probably not to the same extent that her supporters coalesced around Obama in 2008, but to a considerable degree.
In short, Trump has received a victor’s bounce. Clinton has yet to receive one, but she will. Nate Silver and some of his colleagues makes this point here.
I believe, however, that Trump has more bounce to come. Yes, many Republicans, having resigned themselves to his nomination, are now prepared to back him. But many others, including me, haven’t reached that point.
Some will, thus providing Trump with an additional bounce over time. That bounce probably won’t be as substantial the one Clinton will receive when she’s nominated, but it may well be sufficient to keep things interesting.