Polls show tight Clinton-Trump race in 2016 battlegrounds

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Battleground state polls show Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton locked in a tight race for the White House with just more than four months to go before Election Day.

Clinton has so far failed to pull away in the 10 states likely to determine the outcome of the 2016 election, even as Trump has suffered through what some political observers describe as the worst stretch they’ve seen a major presidential candidate endure.

Trump in the last few weeks has fired his campaign manager, seen Republicans flee from his campaign and released embarrassingly low fundraising figures.

Yet he is running competitively with Clinton in the states that will decide the winner of the White House after what may be looked back on as the low point of his campaign.

“If we’ve learned anything this cycle, it’s that this is the Donald Trump election and none of the normal rules apply,” Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray told The Hill. 

President Obama coasted to reelection in 2012 by defeating GOP nominee Mitt Romney in nine out of 10 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

He lost North Carolina, which he had won four years earlier.

Heading into the 2016 conventions next month, polls in those 10 states show close races across the board.

The polling suggests Clinton has an edge because she has leads in six of the 10 states, while Trump is only consistently leading in North Carolina.

Clinton’s lead, however, is just a percentage point or two in most of the states.

Clinton’s largest lead is in Wisconsin, a state Democrats haven’t lost in a presidential election since 1984. According to a CBS News-YouGov poll released Sunday, she has a 5-point lead in the Badger State.

In every other state, the candidates are either tied or within 3.5 points of one another.

Trump and Clinton both have historically high unfavorable ratings, opening the door for two outsider candidates — Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein — to potentially play spoiler.

When Johnson and Stein are considered in polls, the margin between Clinton and Trump almost invariably narrows.

Overall, the electoral map appears to provide more avenues for Clinton to reach 270 electoral votes than Trump.

Polls suggest Clinton has a strong chance of winning Arizona, for example, and the race is also surprisingly close in Georgia and Utah.

RealClearPolitics has Clinton favored to win 211 electoral votes, including 10 from Wisconsin.

The website has Trump winning 164 but has him favored in none of the 10 battleground states.

States with 163 electoral votes are seen as toss-ups on the RCP map, including the nine other traditional battlegrounds as well as Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, which has been a safe Democratic state.

Democrats insist they are not taking anything for granted in the race.

“No Democrat with any common sense or real campaign experience is taking this race for granted,” said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. “These states are battlegrounds for a reason — they’re always, without exception, closer in polls and results than the other 35 to 40 states.”

Pennsylvania is the battleground giving Democrats the most heartburn.

Its 20 electoral votes have not gone to the GOP nominee in almost 30 years, yet a Public Policy Polling survey of the state released this month found Trump and Clinton tied, while a Quinnipiac University poll showed Clinton ahead by only 1 point. Analysts at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics recently shifted Pennsylvania from “Likely Democratic” to “Leans Democratic.”

Trump on Tuesday will look to build on his advantage with working class white voters in the state with a speech from Monessen, a steel mill town an hour south of Pittsburgh that is trying to revitalize itself.

Clinton’s allies, meanwhile, are now pouring millions of dollars into a state where they never expected to have to compete.

The contest in New Hampshire, which has gone for the Democratic candidate in five of the last six presidential cycles, is also a toss-up, with the latest poll showing the candidates are tied. 

Even Clinton’s 5-point lead in Wisconsin is emblematic of the challenges both candidates face: Sixty-one percent of voters said they have a negative view of Clinton, against 62 percent who view Trump unfavorably.

“The historically high unfavorability rating for both of these candidates and the overridingly negative attitude voters have about the direction of the country give an added level of volatility to this race that we haven’t seen,” said pollster David Winston. “We’re in uncharted waters. Clinton has a slight edge, but this is far from settled.”

Trump and Clinton are tied in Ohio, but Clinton holds a 3.4 point lead over Trump in Florida, according to the RCP average of polls.

Florida, by far the biggest swing state with 29 electoral votes, was won by Obama by less than 1 point in 2012.

Clinton has only a 1-point lead in Colorado, according to a CBS-YouGov poll released over the weekend. That poll found that a plurality of voters only support Clinton because they oppose Trump, and vice versa.

In Virginia, Clinton has a 42 to 39 lead over Trump, according to a recent PPP survey.

But again, there are warning signs here for the Democrat: Trump leads big, 42 to 29, among independent voters. 

And that survey found that Clinton’s lead would be larger, but that supporters of Bernie Sanders have yet to get on board with her campaign.

The only state where Trump is presently favored to win is North Carolina, where he holds a 1.3-point advantage in the RCP average.

North Carolina is consistently one of the closest contests in the country. Obama notched the lone Democratic victory there in modern times, squeaking out a 0.3 percentage point victory in 2008, before falling short there by 2 points in 2012. 

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