As the election heads into its final stretch, there are some signs in 2016 presidential polls that the race is tightening in key battleground states, although Hillary Clinton is still leading in polling averages.
However, don’t assume that’s all good news for Donald Trump. Although polls are tightening in some critical battleground states he needs, polls in other battleground states are tightening for Clinton, and she’s maintaining a solid lead in others.
Sites that predict Electoral College math have Clinton as the strong favorite in the waning days of the election. You can see different routes the candidates might take to Electoral College victory here.
In addition, early voting trends have registered some promising news for Clinton as Democratic early voting is up over 2012 in some important battleground states (although how unaffiliated voters break could be determinative). Furthermore, Clinton has turned some reliably red states – Arizona, perhaps even Texas – into battleground states or almost battleground states. It’s bad news for Trump that he’s defending traditional Republican turf this late in the game. Clinton leads in the RealClearPolitics polling average by 5.7 percentage points, a slight uptick in national polling strength over a few days ago.
Electoral math shows Clinton can afford to lose a series of battleground states and still win. NBC wrote: “Clinton could lose Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio – but still win the presidency by holding on to New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.”
However, all eyes are now on the battlegrounds, and there’s been some shifting in the race in recent days.
Here’s a listing of the battleground states where the polls are tightening for Trump, for Clinton, and not tightening as of October 27. The polling averages factor in Gary Johnson and Jill Stein:
Tightening in Trump’s Favor
The race in Florida is getting closer. Florida, along with North Carolina, is considered by many analysts to be a pivotal state when it comes to determining the presidential election.
Clinton leads in the RealClearPolitics polling average but only by 1.6 percentage points, which is in the margin for error. Six days ago, she led by an average 4 points in Florida. Clinton has led by an average 4 points before, but never more in the past few months as the race has remained tight all summer.
Trump actually led in Florida polling averages in September, but recent polling out of the state has shown that he is regaining some of his lost momentum; he plummeted in some states earlier in October during the spate of sexual misconduct allegations made against him (which he denies).
The latest poll in the state, by Bloomberg, had Trump up by 2 percent, still in the margin for error. It’s all shaping up to make Florida a nail biter. Bloomberg found that independent voters have been breaking Trump’s way more recently. Trump does slightly better in this poll when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are included.
Showing the volatility of the race, a poll that measured almost the same period of time showed Clinton up by 3 points – again a statistical tie because of the margin for error. Baynews9 said the race in Florida could go either way.
There’s been a tightening of the polls in Trump’s favor in Nevada.
Clinton leads by an average 2.0, in the margin of error in most polls. She led by 4.8 just four days ago.
However, that had been a high mark moment for her, as the polls have been extremely close – a virtual tie – for months in Nevada. Trump led in September. However, the Nevada polling shows he is recovering somewhat from the misconduct allegations that sank him in the polls, pushing the race back to a virtual tie. The most recent poll by NBC found the race was a literal tie.
States That Are Tightening in Trump’s Favor but Where Clinton Still Holds a Strong Lead
Pennsylvania is a critical battleground state that had looked like solid Clinton turf for months. More recently, there’s been a tightening of the polls there in Trump’s favor. However, Clinton still leads by an average 5 points, outside the margin for error of most polls.
She led by 8.7 points October 13 and 6.2 October 20. Clinton had a commanding lead among black voters and the college-educated, The New York Times said that the most recent poll found her 7 points up. The Times said that Trump will need strong turnout if he wants to prevail. The poll taken right before that one found a 3-point race.
Polling averages show a small improvement for Trump in the most recent poll out of New Hampshire (Clinton led by 4 when she had led by 9, 5, and 8 in the polls before that). Clinton’s polling average is 6.5 percent, but it has declined from 8 on October 4. She remains in a comfortable position in New Hampshire though.
She’s been consistently leading in New Hampshire by a margin outside that of the margin for error in most polls. Time will tell whether the most recent poll is an outlier or a sign of true tightening of the race. The race was tighter in mid October.
Colorado is similar to New Hampshire in that Clinton’s lead has dropped slightly, but she is still far enough ahead to feel comfortable of a victory. She leads an average 6.2, but she led by 9 on October 14 in polling averages and 7.2 on October 24.
In the most recent poll, she only led by 2, in the margin for error (but the poll before that had her up 8).
Clinton also retains a comfortable lead in Michigan, but the race is also tightening there in Trump’s favor.
Clinton leads by an average of 6 points, but that’s down from 11.6 on October 18. Still, it’s a strong lead for Hillary Clinton.
Tightening in Clinton’s Favor
Trump probably didn’t expect to be defending Arizona, but polling shows that he is. Arizona is so red that the state hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president other than Bill Clinton since 1948. And the Clinton race was close.
As of October 27, Clinton was actually leading in Arizona by 1.5 percentage points. That’s in the margin for error though, meaning the race has tightened to a toss up.
Trump led in Arizona until October 18 in polling averages and had a more than 4 percent lead in August. The most recent Arizona poll, by Monmouth, shows Trump up 1 percent (again a dead heat). That’s an improvement for him over polling a few days before, though, that showed Clinton with a 5 point lead. So the race actually started to tighten in Arizona in Clinton’s favor a couple weeks ago, but the most recent poll shows Trump might be regaining some of his lost momentum there.
What’s going on in Arizona? Trump’s hard-line immigration stances have helped drive Latino voters to Clinton. The most recent poll said she had a 65% to 30% lead among them, and they make “up over one-fifth of the state’s likely electorate.” Clinton’s early vote advantage also increases the pressure on Trump.
Trump has been leading in Iowa for months, but the polling shows a recent tightening in Clinton’s favor. Trump is still up an average 1.4 percent in Iowa, but that’s well within the margin for error of most polls.
However, he was up an average 3.7 from October 8-22, and he led by much more than that previously. The most recent poll in Iowa, by Quinnipiac, found the race was a tie. The poll said that Trump’s standing with white men was shrinking.
Georgia has been tightening in Clinton’s favor although Trump still maintains his lead.
The Republican nominee is leading an average 2.8 percent, but that puts him uncomfortably within the margin of error for many polls.
In North Carolina, a pivotal state many people think Trump needs to win the presidency, Clinton has widened her lead ever so slightly in the past few days. However, it’s a lead that is in the margin for error.
Clinton leads by an average 2.4 percent – still in the margin for error. However, she’s leading in the last four polls in North Carolina (by between 1-7 points), and her average lead has increased slightly in the last three days.
If you look farther back than that, though, Clinton did lead by more (3 percent) on October 16. The race was tied in the beginning of October, at which point Clinton broke into a lead.
Almost Battlegrounds Where the Race Is Tightening but Trump Retains a Strong Lead
It sounds absurd at first blush to call Texas a battleground state because it hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since Jimmy Carter.
Trump is still ahead, and experts put a Clinton victory as a long shot. However, the polls have tightened in her favor. The race now stands with Trump leading an average 4.7 percent in polls. He was up 6-7 points in most polls in September.
Clinton is boosted by a large Latino and college-educated population.
Battleground States Where the Race Is Not Tightening
The polling out of Ohio shows that Trump has maintained his slight lead there in the past 10 days, but, at 1.1 percent, it’s within the margin of error in most polls. In mid October, Clinton led in Ohio, as Trump was rocked by a series of sexual misconduct allegations, but Trump recovered somewhat.
Virginia has previously been considered a battleground, but Clinton has been widening her lead there in polling averages, most recently to 9.2%.
Clinton’s runningmate Tim Kaine is a senator from Virginia and former governor.
Clinton leads an average 6.7 points in Wisconsin, and it’s a lead that she’s consistently maintained in that state throughout the month of October. The race was a little tighter in Wisconsin in September.
Despite being helmed by a Republican governor, Scott Walker, the state has gone blue in recent presidential elections. Paul Ryan disinvited Trump in the midst of the misconduct allegations from a major rally in Wisconsin that was to be attended by top Republican leaders, and Trump’s polling hasn’t recovered.
Maine is sometimes regarded as a battleground state, but Clinton’s lead there has been growing and, at 5.2 on average, it’s strong.