Given the deluge of polls that we've seen come out over the past two days, it's taken a bit of time for us to be able to dive down into what's been released. Doing so offers a few good examples of why individual poll numbers are best considered in light of longer term trends.
For example. In the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that came out on Sunday, Hillary Clinton is viewed positively by 37 percent of respondents. Nearly half, 48 percent, view her negatively -- and a full third view her very negatively. That's down substantially from March, when 44 percent viewed her positively, and 36 percent looked at her negatively.
Now, this is not good news for Clinton, by any stretch. But it's also not without precedent. As we've noted before, she also saw her negative ratings climb when she ran in 2008. They recovered once she wasn't running for office. It's right there in the NBC poll data.
That same poll also found that the number of people who thought Hillary Clinton was hurting her party was exceeded only by the number who thought Donald Trump was hurting his. That's pretty remarkable; Trump's campaign has reportedly worried Republican leaders who think that he's damaging their public perception. Democrats, largely, believe Clinton as their nominee would be a very good thing for downballot candidates.
We reached out to NBC for a breakdown of this data by party. As you might expect, that makes a big difference: We see that nearly half of Republicans think Trump is hurting the party's image, while only 19 percent of Democrats think Hillary Clinton is harming hers.
Part of that is a function of there being more Republicans in the race. Big Scott Walker supporters are probably more likely to say Trump is hurting the party than big Trump supporters, obviously. Clinton is viewed less favorably because she's in a contested race. Trump is viewed less favorably in part because he is, too.
But part of that is because it's Trump. The number of Republicans who think Jeb Bush is hurting his party is the same as the number of Democrats who think Clinton is hurting hers.
Some have compared the Trump surge with the surge by Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. New polling has Sanders creeping up in the Real Clear Politics polling average against Clinton. And if you compare the two, their surges look surprisingly similar, though Trump's is steeper.
The important and obvious context here is that the two fields are very, very different. The splintered Republican field means that Trump is in the lead. Even after his improvement, Sanders is way, way behind Clinton.
Laying on top of this like a melting pat of butter is the eternal caveat: "It's early." Poll numbers are fun to parse and consider; in the grand scheme of things, they don't always offer a lot of insight. Adding a little context makes that much more clear.