POLITICS: Battleground 2016 -Clinton Holds onto Thin Electoral College Lead

by Camilo Arenivar

map courtesy www.realclearpolitics.com

Background: I am blogging each week about where I believe we are in the Electoral College votes based on the previous week’s polling in the battleground states. This is because the Presidential election is based not on popular vote, but that of the Electoral College. More on that here.

It is now Eight weeks to Election Day and the tightening of the polls I started to observe in my blog 2 weeks ago have now come to fruition in very observable ways and have been reported widespread throughout the media. I will analyze the direction things have been looking at in some of the key states based on the polls that have come out over the last 10 days or less.

TWO-WAY POLLS DON’T MATTER

As I continue to cover the battleground states polls, I am changing one aspect to my analysis. I am ONLY going to pay attention to polls in battleground states that are based on a 4-way race where all 4 candidates (Trump, Clinton, Johnson, and Stein) or 3-way (Trump, Clinton, Johnson) are on the ballot in a particular state. The reason for this is I believe that they more accurately reflect the situation come election day in eight weeks.
 
 There were a number of interesting polls released since then and I will take a look at them:
 
New Hampshire
 
 New Hampshire, which for a while was looking very solidly Clinton has shown some signs of faltering support. Winning New Hampshire is one of the ways we get to 270 for Clinton. A 9/11 NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls showed Clinton with just a 2% lead. A 9/5 Emerson poll showed her 5% ahead of Trump. Previous polls in the state had had her at 11% on 8/28 and 9% on 8/12. Because New Hampshire has gone Democrat 4 out of the last 5 Presidential elections (including the last 3), I am going to keep this in the Clinton column for now but will be keeping an eye on it. Losing this state could cause her to lose the election if she does not win certain other states that have been toss ups.
 
Florida
 
 We have four polls in Florida over the last 5 days and they all should raise concerns for Team Clinton:
 
 9/12 JMC Analytics: Trump +4
 9/11 CBS/YouGov: Clinton +2
 9/8 Quinnipiac: Tie
 9/7 PPP: Trump +1
 
 Florida stays a toss up state although it is starting to appear to lean Trump. Clinton’s team needs to do some serious work in this state if they want to turn it around.
 
 Nevada

First poll here in 3 weeks or so and the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist on 9/11 gave Donald Trump a 1% lead. A month ago in the 4-way contest Clinton was up 2%. Still too close to call and leaving this one as a toss-up state too. In a close electoral college vote tally, Nevada’s 6 electoral college votes could be necessary to put her over 270.
 
 Ohio

If the 9/11 CBS/YouGov poll released on 9/11 is an indication, Clinton could be turning things around in Ohio. That poll of likely voters had her 7% ahead of Trump, which was out of the margin of error. A Quinnipiac poll 3 days before showed Trump with a 4% lead, very narrowly outside of the margin of error. A change for Clinton in Ohio and it’s 18 electoral college votes could pad the possible losses of New Hampshire and Nevada (which I don’t count toward her 272 in my model anyway). For now I am keeping Ohio as a toss-up state, but will be keeping an eye on it to see if it can be placed in Clinton’s column once we have more polls confirming this.
 
 North Carolina
 
 Like Ohio, North Carolina is showing a little movement toward the Clinton side. Not enough for me to take it out of the toss up column, but definitely there could be some signs of a change. Here are the last 3 polls there:
 
 9/8 Quinnipiac: Clinton +4
 9/8 Suffolk: Trump +3
 9/4 CBS/YouGov: Clinton +4

Polls out in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin showed a narrowing of Clinton’s lead, but she was still ahead outside the margin of error (although one very narrowly in Wisconsin). 
 
 The Bottom Line: Hillary Clinton’s lead has shrunk from two weeks ago in the battleground states where the election will be won or lost. Despite that, I still predict she would carry enough states to win the Electoral College. Barely. And that could be changing in different ways depending on which way the polls go when we get additional polling in from Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. While I don’t like to base my numbers on too close to call within the margin of error polling, below is the RCP
Electoral College map projection based on where the polls average right now, according to RealClearPolitics no matter how close (no toss ups):