It’s almost over. America will soon have a new president-elect.
Will it be Hillary Clinton, the nation’s first woman president buoyed by the country’s changing demographics? Or the renegade Donald Trump, who fought forces in his own party to start what his followers call a movement? It’s been an unusual presidential election year, to say the least.
Heightening the drama: The battleground state polls tightened fairly dramatically in the past week. Both candidates have plausible paths to victory. (See a state-by-state breakdown of recent polls and polling averages for November 8 below.)
Clinton leads in most forecasting sites’ predictions based on her stronger position in the electoral college (71.5% chance to win by FiveThirtyEight and 88% by PredictWise). Putting it simply, she has more margin for error than he does based on the map. For example, most people think Trump can’t win if he loses Florida, Ohio, or North Carolina (but those polls are very close as Americans head out to vote). Clinton needs them too, but she could more easily weather their loss.
Trump has battled back to virtual ties in a number of critical states that will, in one combination or the other, determine the presidency. His standing in some states continues to improve (in Ohio, he leads by 7 in a new poll, and the margin keeps shrinking in the critical state of Pennsylvania), but in other battleground states Clinton’s standing has now stabilized and even grown after eroding for days to the point of virtual ties (New Hampshire and Nevada, for starters).
So where do things stand in the battleground polls on November 8? Here’s the tale of the tape, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages:
Battleground states where the race is a virtual tie (a candidate leads by 3% or less) (7): Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa.
Battleground states Trump leads (2): Ohio, Arizona.
Battleground states Clinton leads (5): Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maine, New Mexico.
Clinton does better at some other sites that also crunch polling numbers. For example, FiveThirtyEight, which conducts exhaustive polling analysis, is projecting a Trump victory in only these battleground states: Iowa, Ohio, and Arizona. That would be a Clinton landslide if it holds true. The site gives her chances as just over 50% for another three states: Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. Of course, polling predictions don’t have a way of predicting real-time turnout, which can make a big different in close contests. The site predicts Clinton wins by large margins in the other battlegrounds.
It’s clear, though, that Trump gained some ground in the past week in many states. Clinton’s shrinking standing in the battleground polls started both before and after FBI Director James Comey sent his controversial letter to Congress asserting that the Bureau wanted to investigate newly discovered emails to see if they bore significance to its earlier investigation of her. She already led in more states than Trump, so the drop put several states into deadlocks. Comey on Sunday revealed the FBI won’t refer charges against Clinton for the emails, but it will be hard for her to recover days of eroded standings in a day.
Here are 9 possible election outcomes using electoral college maps.
Turnout is going to matter. Early voting does too. More than 40 million Americans have already voted. See a state-by-state breakdown of early voting tallies here. Early voting patterns, when compared to 2012, have been positive for Republicans in some key states, like Florida and North Carolina, and they have been positive for Clinton in others, like Nevada and Colorado. Hispanic turnout is up in some areas; African-American, though, is down.
If Clinton wins today, the November 9 narrative will probably read: He battled back, but he ended up energizing Latino turnout in key states that mattered, which gave her the White House. It’s not Reagan’s America anymore, and you probably will see renewed efforts to remake the Republican Party and bring it back to a message of more inclusiveness. Without such a message, the Republican math keeps getting tougher in states the party used to count on.
If Trump wins today, the November 9 narrative will probably read: His candidacy was non-traditional from the start, and so it’s no surprise traditional pollsters didn’t pick up the pulse of the electorate. Last-minute Obamacare premiums and economic angst in largely white states gave him the key pickups he needed to surprise, with independents breaking hard for him, and African-American and millennial turnout that didn’t match Obama’s huge margins.
Time will tell, of course.
Here’s what you need to know as of November 8 state-by-state:
Battleground States in the Margin of Error (3% lead or under)
Trump leads Florida by an average of 0.2%, about as close as you can get, up slightly from even the day before. Polling out of Florida has consistently shown the race to be deadlocked in this must-win state for Trump. It’s hard for him to make the electoral math work without Florida (also tough for her, but she has more pathways that could still work).
What do the most recent polls show? Florida polls from November 1 onward show Trump leading 4 and 3; one tie; and Clinton leading 2, 1, and 1. It’s safe to say Florida is a dead heat.
One well known statistician, Nate Silver, is now predicting that Trump will win Florida.
It’s hard to know, of course, how the latest revelation by FBI Director James Comey will affect an already volatile race. Comey revealed on Sunday that the FBI will not recommend charges against Clinton for the newly discovered emails it was reviewing.
Early voting trends in Florida have been positive for Republicans as they’ve closed the Democratic gap in early voting seen in 2012. Clinton led by 1.2% in polling averages on October 27 showing that Florida was tight, and the state remains tight.
The election forecasting site FiveThirtyEight, which has a slightly different methodology, gives Clinton a 55.1% chance to win Florida.
Pennsylvania would be a critically important pick up for Trump. In fact, if Trump can take Pennsylvania, it could secure the election for him. Clinton currently leads an average of 1.9%, down from 2.4% in the state just the day before.
That’s in the margin for error of most polls, and one of the most recent polls in the state, by Harper, found the race was a tie. The two most recent polls show Trump up 1 (but that’s by a Republican leaning pollster), and Clinton up 4. Pennsylvania hasn’t gone Republican since 1988, so these margins are making Democrats nervous.
Clinton led in the four polls before those either 2 or 4 percentage points. Trump’s numbers are buoyed by the economic angst seen in western Pennsylvania, a state with only limited early voting.
Clinton led Pennsylvania by 5 in polling averages on October 27.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 77% chance to win Pennsylvania.
You can see a detailed analysis of Pennsylvania and the presidential election here:
Clinton leads an average 0.6%, after Trump led by an average 1.6% just the day before. However, the race is still in the margin of error for most polls, and it tightened in Trump’s favor in the past week.
The two most recent polls show wildly different results. One has Clinton up by 11. The other has Clinton up by 1. The last five polls showed two ties and Trump leading by 2, 5, and 1.
The race in New Hampshire remains volatile and close.
New Hampshire does not have wide open early voting, which helps Trump because he plummeted in the polls in most states in mid-October after the sexual assault allegations against him but has now recovered. Clinton led by 6.5+ in polling averages on October 27.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 69.8% chance of winning New Hampshire.
Similar to New Hampshire, Trump now leads an average 1%, but that’s down from 1.7% the day before, in North Carolina, which is considered by most to be a must-win state for him. Clinton could use the state too.
Trump’s slim lead is in the margin of error for most polls, though. The most recent polls show these results: A tie, Clinton up 2 and 1, and Trump up 5 and 7. The polls show that Clinton has regained a little of the ground she lost after the FBI Director’s first letter on October 27. But the race is a dead heat.
Democrats have been concerned about African-American turnout in North Carolina, trends reflected in a smaller margin of Democratic early voting when compared to 2012.
Clinton led an average 2.4% in polling averages on October 27, showing how the race has tightened.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 55.5% chance of winning North Carolina.
Clinton leads an average 2.9% in Colorado, which is a state that would help Trump dramatically if he could pick it up. On November 2, she led by an average of 1.7%, so she’s getting a little momentum back in Colorado.
Of seven recent polls, though, two showed a tie, and the other 5 show Clinton leads of between 1-6 percentage points. Thus, Colorado still looks like Hillary’s to lose, but it’s gotten closer in the past weeks (Clinton led by 8 in mid-October). In recent days, Clinton’s average has stabilized there, though. Early voting trends in Colorado favor Democrats this year.
Clinton led by 6.2% on October 27 in polling averages, so the race in Colorado has also tightened.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 77.5% chance of winning Colorado.
Trump leads in Nevada by an average 1.5%, down from 2.2% the day before, but that’s in the margin of error, and local news analysis of early voting trends has found they are favorable for Clinton.
The most recent poll in the state shows Clinton up 1. The three most recent polls before that one showed the race a tie, and Trump leading by 6 and 4. A surge in Latino turnout is keeping this one close in a state where most people early vote, and one local reporter, Jon Ralston, who studies early voting patterns has reported that they will be very tough for Trump to surmount in a state Obama won by a healthy margin.
Clinton led by 2% in polling averages on October 27, and remember that Nevada is a state where most of the electorate early votes.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 58.3% chance of winning Nevada.
Trump leads Iowa by an average of 3%. Recent polls have looked good for him out of Iowa.
The most recent poll, by the Des Moines Register, showed him leading by 7. Two other recent polls showed him up 3 and 1.
The newspaper said, “Trump leads among several key demographic groups, including men, self-identified independents, young and middle-aged voters and those without a college degree.” Early voting trends out of Iowa have looked promising for Trump.
Early voting trends out of Iowa have been positive for Republicans. Trump was up 1.4% in Iowa polling averages on October 27, so his standing in this state has grown.
FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 69.8% chance of winning Iowa.
Trump leads in Ohio, and, at 3.5, the lead has grown out of the margin of error for most polls. He’s led in all polls out of Ohio since the first James Comey letter to Congress, though – 1, 5, 5, and 7. The most recent poll showed him up 7, so his strength in Ohio has grown in recent days, and his polling average increased since Sunday even.
The CBS poll showing him with a 1-point lead is the most recent, though. Clinton has recovered slightly in the polling average the past few days.
The results in this poll were similar to that in Florida, showing both candidates with high negatives, Trump with more enthusiasm, and Clinton’s emails upsetting just under half of voters. Early voting trends in Ohio have looked positive for the GOP.
Trump was up 1.1% in Ohio in polling averages on October 27, so Trump has gained.
FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 64.6% chance of winning Ohio.
Trump now has a healthy 4% average lead in Arizona, which has tightened in his favor after Clinton made this traditionally red state competitive due to Hispanic turnout. For a time, it looked like she could win Arizona. That possibility is still always there, but Trump has regained standing and is leading.
Trump has led in all of the most recent Arizona polls, by 5, 5, 4, and 2. Clinton led by 1.5% in Arizona polling averages on October 27, so Trump has broken into a stronger lead.
FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 66.6% chance of winning Arizona.
Donald Trump has been competing aggressively for Michigan, heading there on Sunday night, but Clinton still leads there by an average of 4.7%. Still, that’s down from 7% on November 1 and 6% on October 27. But it’s up slightly from recent days.
The most recent polls show Clinton leading by 5, 5, and 4. The margins are getting close to the margin of error, and Trump is hoping that turnout will benefit him. Michigan is not a state that allows everyone to early vote. Republicans say they have seen positive signs in the limited early voting the state allows. The state does not let everyone early vote, which could help Trump.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 78.9% chance of winning Michigan.
Clinton leads Wisconsin by a healthy 6.5%, up from 5.5% just a day before in RealClearPolitics polling averages. Trump recently cancelled a rally he was going to give in Wisconsin on November 6 in favor of events in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia instead.
Wisconsin tends to vote Democratic in presidential years, although it has a Republican governor, attorney general, and Legislature. There hasn’t been a lot of polling out of Wisconsin, but the last three polls showed Clinton up 8, 6, 6, and 4. Early voting shows some positive signs for Democrats in Wisconsin and, at this point, it would be an upset for Trump to win. The state went for Obama the last time around.
Clinton led 6.7% in Wisconsin polling averages on October 27, so her lead here has shrunk too but not as much as in other battleground states.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton an 83.5% chance of winning Wisconsin.
Clinton leads by an average of 5 percentage points in Virginia, the home of her running mate Tim Kaine. That’s down slightly from the day before.
She led by 8 on October 30, and the race then tightened in Trump’s favor. However, more recently, her polling average has ticked back up, as we are seeing in a number of battleground states. She led in the 5 most recent polls from 4-7 percentage points. In the most recent poll, she leads by 6.
That’s a tighter race, but her lead remains comfortable.
She led Virginia by an average of 9.7% on October 27. FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton an 85.5% chance of winning Virginia.
Clinton leads Maine by an average 4.5% in RealClearPolitics polling average, a margin that dropped from a 6.6% lead on November 1.
She leads in the most recent polls by 4 and 5.
But here’s the thing: Maine gives a single electoral vote to each of two Congressional Districts, and Trump is leading in Congressional District 2. That could actually be decisive in some electoral college maps.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a, 82.6% chance of winning Maine overall, but Trump has the strongest position in District 2.
This state makes some battleground state lists, but not others. Clinton leads an average 5% in New Mexico, but the most recent poll there only showed her up 2.
FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton an 82.6% chance of winning New Mexico.