Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a slight lead over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a Rasmussen poll released Sept. 1.
Trump has 40 percent in the poll, edging out Clinton's 39 percent. One week earlier, Clinton had a 42 percent to 38 percent lead over Trump, suggesting the GOP nominee is clawing back after several weeks of falling behind in poll after poll.
The third-party candidates are also making dents in the polls, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 7 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 3 percent. But it's unclear what effect the third parties are having on the major parties.
Although Johnson is a former Republican governor of New Mexico and a staunch fiscal conservative, he could be getting as many disenchanted Democrat votes as he is Republican votes because of his liberal social policies, including marijuana legalization. And Stein's Green Party has often been much further to the left than the Democratic Party, suggesting that many of her voters wouldn't vote for Clinton anyway.
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Despite the effect of third parties, Rasmussen reports that Clinton has been on a “downward trend” since the Democratic National Convention in July when she hit her high mark of 44 percent.
However, Rasmussen poll tends to lean conservative and other polls tell a different story. According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, Clinton has a 48 to 41 percent lead over Trump. And a Fox News poll, which often leads conservative, has Clinton beating Trump 41 to 39 percent, although her lead in that poll has been shrinking in recent weeks.
But it's not just conservative polls that are friendly to Trump. The latest USC/Los Angeles Times poll has a 45 to 42 percent lead over Clinton.
In addition, FiveThirtyEight notes that Clinton's lead in several swing states has dropped since Aug. 14. And in Florida and Ohio, arguably the two most important swing states, Clinton's lead is only 3.1 and 2.7 percent, respectively.