Previously, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had been polling far behind Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in general election projections. After consolidating support in the GOP, the business mogul has closed that gap.
Having emerged victorious after a fractious Republican primary, Trump has surged recent presidential polls.
Despite having polled behind Clinton by double digits in some earlier polls, the presumptive GOP nominee now has a slight edge over the former secretary of state in Real Clear Politics’ weekly polling average, Politico reports.
As of May 23, the polling aggregate found the weekly survey results averaged 43.4 percent support for Trump while Clinton came in a slight second with 43.2 percent.
This rapid shift has been attributed to Trump’s ability to consolidate support in the GOP while Clinton is still in the middle of a contentious Democratic primary.
While the former secretary of state is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, her support remains challenged by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has stated he will continue to run until the last primary vote is counted.
A vocal group of dissenting Republicans appeared in the later stages of the GOP primary race, swearing they would never back Trump. That resistance largely fizzled away after Trump’s final primary rivals dropped out of the race.
GOP leaders, such as former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, former Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have shifted from deeming Trump unqualified for the presidency to urging Republican voters to back him in the general election, The New York Times reports.
“The biggest uniting force in the Republican Party is the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency,” said political consultant Ryan Williams, who had previously been a spokesman for former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. “That is a motivating factor in mollifying even some of Mr. Trump’s harshest critics.”
Romney remains an ardent opponent of Trump’s presidential campaign. Most GOP voters appear to no longer share the same reservations, contributing to the businessman's large bump in national support
The current polling of the general election race could change dramatically over the next six months. Clinton is still engaged in a tense primary race and could experience a boost in the polls if she is able to win over Sanders supporters.
On May 22, the former New York senator dismissed the new polling during a sit-down with NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
“Polls this far out mean nothing,” Clinton said. “They certainly mean nothing to me. And I think if people go back and look, they really mean nothing in terms of analyzing what’s going to happen in the fall.”