Donald Trump points at a thing. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

On Thursday, we looked at Donald Trump's repeated claim that he would beat Hillary Clinton in a general election — a claim that he often suggests is backed up by polling data.

Our point in that piece was that polls said no such thing. Since voting began, Trump has led Clinton in one of the 29 head-to-head polls taken.


What's more, a race that once looked like it might be getting close — that yellow line dipping in toward the middle — now looks like it's getting un-close once again (the line moving back to the left).

We were asked repeatedly to look at the same question for the other candidates still in the mix, so we did.

Let's start with the other possible Trump matchup, against Bernie Sanders. The pattern here is similar: Maybe it once looked like there might be a real race, but now Sanders is pulling away.


We're focused on the trend here because polling this far out is not terribly predictive. After all, how could it be, with so many different possible matchups and such wide-ranging results? So that yellow line is more suggestive. It shows the pattern.

In most of the other matchups for which we have data, it's harder to plot that yellow line. After all, not a lot of pollsters wasted time asking about a potential John Kasich-Sanders general election in early 2015.

We can plot the line for Ted Cruz vs. Clinton, though. Notice how the trend differs from the Trump one, a steadily closer matchup. For now, anyway.


The graph for Sanders looks a lot different. Sanders beats Cruz nearly every time, and by a wide margin. In only four races — two from live-call pollsters and two from Internet-based pollsters — does Cruz beat Sanders. And the last time he did so was in 2015.


That's similar to how the Kasich-Sanders matchup looks. The contest has only been polled recently, but Kasich has beaten Sanders regularly. (Notice that the non-live-caller polls have much bigger Sanders margins.)


In Kasich vs. Clinton, the Republicans see their best matchup yet. In nearly every live-caller poll, Kasich beats Clinton (though, again, the Internet-based polls go the other way).


Let's go back to the Trump polls, though. Those yellow lines tell a story that should make Republicans uncomfortable.

Both Clinton and Sanders are starting to beat Trump by a lot. The reply from Trump fans is predictable (and I am sure many will tweet it at me having not read this far in the article). Trump will turn out more independents and Democrats! they'll say. Whether those fans know it or not, that argument hinges on the idea that the turnout in November will be hard to predict and that current pollster modelling is wrong. But it's worth remembering that these polls include Democrats and independents that Trump will supposedly woo. If he's going to convert a bunch to his cause, they're keeping that a secret from the pollsters so far.

But, as we noted on Thursday, Trump's making the claim that he'd beat Clinton is not based on the data at-hand, but on his desire to make the claim. And that, we have learned, is not something that the media can affect.