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Trump gains ground against Clinton, tracking poll finds

Donald Trump has gained ground against Hillary Clinton, according to the latest findings from the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times national tracking poll of the presidential race.

The uptick for Trump follows a broad-based decline in early August and suggests a possible narrowing of the race.

Trump has regained some of ground he lost after the Democratic National Convention in late July, when he repeatedly criticized the Muslim¬†American parents of a dead U.S. Army captain, and appeared to urge Russia to hack Clinton’s email.

As of Sunday, the tracking poll showed Trump at 45% and Clinton at 43%, within the survey’s margin of error. Those results are far closer than most other polls, which use different methodology and almost uniformly show Clinton ahead by several points.

The shift follows a shakeup last week at the top of the Trump campaign after weeks of turmoil. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort was ousted after his past work for pro-Kremlin figures in the Ukraine became a political liability.

Turnout is a key factor in any election, and the poll also asks if Clinton and Trump supporters plan to vote.

For the first time in three weeks, more Trump supporters said they planned to vote than Clinton supporters by a slight margin, 83%-82%.

One week ago, on August 14, 78% of Trump supporters planned to vote compared with 83% of Clinton supporters.

Separately, the poll also asks voters which candidate they think will win. That question has often shown greater ability to predict election outcomes than asking people who they will vote for, particularly when the election remains months away.

Clinton continues to lead voter expectations by a large margin, 54%-40%.

After the Republican National Convention last month, Trump had briefly narrowed the gap on that question, but Clinton rebounded sharply in mid-August and has held that lead.

Some analysts have suggested that the way the USC/L.A. Times Daybreak poll is weighted has shifted the results a few points in Trump’s favor.

Every poll weights results to make sure the survey sample matches known demographic facts. They thus are weighted to reflect accurate percentages of men and women or older and younger voters.

Each poll does that process differently, and until the votes are counted, there’s no way to know for sure which method was right.

The Daybreak tracking poll uses a different methodology than most election surveys.

Instead of randomly contacting a different set of people for each survey, it uses a panel of roughly 3,200 eligible voters, selected to be representative of the U.S. electorate. Those people are resurveyed continuously, roughly 300-400 per day.

As a result, shifts in the candidates’ standings reflect actual people changing their minds as opposed to variations in who responds from one survey to the next.

Using a 0-100 scale, the poll asks voters to estimate the chance that they will vote for Clinton, Trump or another candidate.

Each week, the poll has found that about three-quarters of the voters don’t significantly shift their preferences.

At the other end of the scale, very few do a complete turnaround — going from wholehearted support of Trump, for example, to strong support for Clinton.

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