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The simple reason why Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton polls tightened

Hillary Clinton.Andrew Harnik/AP/file 2016

When it comes to a presidential general election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, two things should be clear this week:

1. The race has tightened.

2. The reason it has tightened is because Republicans have come around to Trump, while Clinton is still dealing with a divided party.

Ever since Trump essentially locked up the Republican nomination three weeks ago, his polling position has improved relative to Clinton.

Days before the Indiana primary, a national CNN/ORC poll showed Clinton up 13 points over Trump. Monday morning two different polls from NBC/Wall Street Journal and ABC/Washington Post showed the race within the margin of error. In fact, the ABC News poll showed Trump up by 2 percentage points.


The NBC poll found that Republicans are now supporting Trump over Clinton by 86 percent to 6 percent. This is an improvement from a month ago when that margin was just 72 percent to 13 percent.

All of this leads one of the biggest questions for the next month: Can Clinton consolidate Democrats behind her cause? The same NBC poll showed just two-thirds of Bernie Sanders voters said they would vote for Clinton against Trump. Meanwhile, the ABC News poll showed that 20 percent of Sanders voters would actually vote for Trump over Clinton.

All of this means that the path to victory for Clinton might be determined by how she closes out her primary campaign against Sanders. Clinton may not need to appeal to independent voters as much as she just simply needs to convince Sanders supporters to join her.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at bostonglobe.com/groundgame.