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Should Democrats freak out about Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers?

Hillary Clinton.Carlos Barria/REUTERS/file 2016

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A week ago you had to warn Democrats not to get too cocky about the presidential race. Their nominee had a 6-point lead nationally. State by state, it looked as though Hillary Clinton was a lock -- and that her win might even verge on a blowout.

Then Friday’s bombshell news that the FBI found new e-mails that might have come from her private server. The immediate consequence was to put the Clinton campaign on defense, waiting to see how much of a hit this would be to her poll numbers.


On Wednesday, they got hit pretty bad. Her national lead was cut in half. She now leads in only four of the remaining 10 battleground states. Polls show that Republicans might be coming home to back their presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

So after leading for most of the general election campaign, should Democrats be in full freakout mode that Clinton could actually lose this race at the last minute?

The numbers still say no. In fact, while Republicans no doubt are feeling good about how this race is closing, they are the ones who could be really stressed.


Consider the patterns in this race since the summer. While it might seem like a roller coaster the way the race is covered in the media, especially on television, the reality is that it is relatively stable. Trump’s and Clinton’s poll numbers don’t fluctuate more than five points either way.

The big pattern has been this: Clinton holds a sizable lead, then the two candidates become statistically tied, and then Clinton’s lead grows again. Consider the new national polls, from ABC/Washington Post and CBS/New York Times, which show her national lead cut in half to 2 and 3 points, respectively. Yes, Trump has momentum. But, no, Trump doesn’t have the lead, not even in the worst days of polling for Clinton. The damage for Clinton has stabilized.


Battleground states usually lag national polls for full impact. The new WBUR poll in New Hampshire out Thursday morning will no doubt cause a lot of celebration among Republicans. That poll showed Trump leading Clinton 40 to 39 percent in the Granite State. But, again, this means that the best Trump can do is tied when Clinton is at her worst. There are still days to go.

The bottom line: Democrats have every right to be concerned. As of this moment Clinton will still likely win, but it will be closer that we thought just a week ago.

Then again there could more bombshell news at any moment.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell. Want the latest news on the presidential campaign, every weekday in your inbox? Sign up here for Ground Game. And check out more of the Boston Globe’s newsletters offeringshere.