The one poll that actually has Trump leading the race was also the most accurate in 2012

Poll at your own risk. Picture: Getty Images

Scanning the daily list of US poll results, it’s impossible to ignore the one that has Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton.

Even after all the gaffes, all the debate stumbles, all the leaked footage, there’s at least one poll which still says it’s a proper race.

This one:

Image: RealClearPolitics

That’s from the continual tracking gurus at RealClearPolitics.

Most of the time, you’d dismiss the IBD/TIPP result. Take the top 10 most credible polls, kick out the top and bottom outliers, get the average read and it’s Clinton by a solid – but not invincible – six or so points.

But this is the IBD/TIPP poll. Even Nate Silver says it was the most reliable in 2012, and while IBD/TIPP didn’t do so great in 2008, they were top three in 2004.

While its political reportage is most definitely Republican-leaning, in 2016, IBD/TIPP polling can’t be considered the same. In the first week of August, it had Clinton ahead by seven points.

In the first week of September, Trump had narrowed the lead to just a point.

Then came the presidential debates, after which virtually all of those polls considered legitimate had Clinton winning in a 3-0 knockout, although instant online polls favoured Trump.

Following the third debate, IBD/TIPP put the race in a tie.

And since then, it says Trump has opened up a one-point lead for the first time in the campaign.


IBD/TIPP says Trump is dominating:

…among men (48% to 34%), lower-income voters (48% to 35%), rural voters (60% to 22%), and those who express a religion

Surprisingly, he’s closer than expected on the US West Coast, where Clinton’s domination in just three states should be worth an almost guaranteed 74 of 270 votes needed to win.

IBD/TIPP says Clinton has 40% of the vote in the West, just ahead of Trump’s 38%.

It’s a legitimate poll of 783 likely voters with a weighted breakdown which actually favours Democrats 282 to Republicans 226, and 259 identifying as Independents.

So with two weeks to go, is there any reason for Democrat supporters to feel they need to take a little more action, just to be sure?

No – but it can’t hurt.

The last time the polls got it wrong by 6% was, well, 1992, when Hillary’s husband Bill took a huge dive in the final week. But Bill lost his votes to Independent Ralph Nader – George Bush finished with exactly the result polls had suggested over eight months.

Then of course there was the amazing final week comeback from Ronald Reagan in 1980. You might have seen this being shopped around Facebook recently:

That’s actually correct – but Snopes has an excellent rundown of why Reagan’s situation doesn’t really apply to Trump in 2016.

With no dramatic military crisis directly involving Americans or economic hard times, there’s nothing to suggest Trump can turn his numbers around.

But it’s not impossible for Hillary – like her husband in 1992 – to lose a chunk of support on voting day. Not to Trump, but to Independents, as wavering former Democrat faithfuls look for an alternative that isn’t Trump.

Trump himself is pinning his hopes on the Brexit phenomenon. That’s entirely justified.

But even IBD/TIPP won’t bank on that. Despite the hard numbers, its “zeitgeist” reading – which in these days where hearts seem to increasingly rule heads, is perhaps the closest anyone has to a realistic handle on things – has Clinton in a canter, 52% to 20%.

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