• Reuters


Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pulled nearly even with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for the first time since May, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken over the course of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week.

The July 18 to 22 national online poll found that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton, while 38 percent supported Trump. Given the poll’s credibility interval of about 4 percentage points, Trump and Clinton should be considered to be about even in the race.

Just before Republicans opened the convention on Monday, Trump had trailed Clinton by nearly 10 percentage points in the poll.

The New York businessman-turned-politician formally accepted the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 presidential election during a convention that at times struggled to show unity.

The week started with a dustup between convention leaders and delegates who wanted to change the party’s rules to derail Trump’s nomination. Later in the week, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who dropped out of the nomination race in May, refused to endorse Trump in a prime-time speech.

Yet, on the final night of the convention, Republicans gave Trump a standing ovation as he pledged to take back a country that he said is plagued by crime, terrorism and ineffective leadership.

Party conventions are partly meant to introduce the candidate to the country, and nominees tend to get a boost in opinion polls afterward. In 2012, then-nominee Mitt Romney rose by about 5 percentage points in the Reuters/Ipsos poll after the Republican convention.

Clinton, who is expected to be formally nominated by her party at its convention in Philadelphia next week, has led Trump most of the year in the poll.

The last time Trump drew about even with Clinton was in mid-May, after his last two rivals for the Republican nomination dropped out of the race and party leaders started to get behind his campaign.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted in English in all 50 states with 1,036 likely voters.

Trump also received an apparent boost from his 75-minute acceptance speech at the GOP convention, attracting a bigger U.S. television audience than the same event four years ago, though failing to match the all-time record, according to Nielsen data released Friday.

An estimated 32.2 million people tuned in on 10 broadcast and cable networks on Thursday night to see Trump accept his party’s nomination for president, Nielsen said.

That compared with 30.3 million who watched Mitt Romney four years ago and 38.9 million viewers for John McCain in 2008, the all-time ratings record for a national party convention.

U.S. TV networks boosted coverage of the Republican convention in Cleveland this year after Trump drew huge audiences during the 2016 presidential debates. Media analysts had predicted Trump had a shot at setting viewership records for a political convention. The wealthy businessman and former reality television star had promised to throw out traditions and provide a “showbiz” feel to the four-day event.

Fox News Channel, owned by Twenty-First Century Fox, led all networks with 9.4 million viewers from 10 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Eastern time, when Trump spoke following an introduction by his daughter Ivanka.

Comcast Corp.’s NBC drew 4.6 million viewers.

The Nielsen figures do not include viewing on digital platforms that also carried Trump’s speech live.

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