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Cook Political Report shifts Ohio, Iowa to 'toss up' in presidential race

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted the presidential race in Ohio and Iowa to a “toss up” on Tuesday from "lean Republican," citing recent polls showing a tightening race between President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama MORE.

The independent online newsletter had moved the race in both states to “lean Republican” from “likely Republican” in mid-June but on Tuesday said it decided to shift the states to a toss up as recent polls show a close race.

Ohio and Iowa, two states Trump carried in 2016, are more critical for Trump to win than for Biden. Biden doesn’t necessarily need to carry either state to reach 270 electoral votes, but Trump likely can’t win without either state, Cook noted. 

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In Iowa, Cook highlighted three public polls that came out in recent weeks that showed a tight race between the candidates. The Des Moines Register survey found voters deadlocked at 47 percent a piece for each candidate, while a poll from The New York Times and Siena College found 45 percent backing Biden and 42 percent supporting Trump. A Monmouth University poll found Trump leading by 6 points, 50 percent to 44 percent.

In Ohio, Cook noted a September Fox News poll that found Trump slipping further behind Biden than he had been in the summer. The recent poll found Trump trailing by 5 points, 45 percent to 50 percent, while a poll from May-early June found the president trialing the Democrat by just 2 points, 43 percent to 45 percent. 

Similarly, Quinnipiac surveys found Trump not gaining ground in Ohio. A Quinnipiac survey from September found Biden with a 1-point lead, 48 percent to 47 percent. A Quinnipiac survey from mid-June found a similarly tight race with Biden leading by 1 point, 46 percent to 45 percent. 

Ohio and Iowa are now two of five states Cook ranks as a toss up in the presidential race, joining North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

Four other states widely seen as swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, are rated "lean Democrat" on Cook.

It counts states totaling 290 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win, as rated either "solid," "likely" or "lean" Democratic.