Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on 8/31/16. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0).
Donald Trump gives immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on 8/31/16.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0).

National polling shows that the race the margin between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is tightening. If you look at 4-way polling that includes Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein (this cycle we shouldn’t bother with two-way polling) Hillary Clinton has seen Real Clear Politics average of polls lead slip from 7.6 points on August 9th to a 2.1% lead today.

Clinton’s average high since May has been 44%. As it stands today it is 41.3%. Trump’s average high was 40.2% back on July 31st when he and Clinton were tied. Today his average polling, nationally, is 39.2% up from 36.3% when he trailed Clinton by 7.6% on August 9th.

The numbers who are undecided or are supporting another candidate has actually increased slightly since August 9th from 7.3% to 7.9%.

The highest percentage Trump has received in a 4-way poll is 45%. That was the CNN/ORC poll conducted on September 1-4 shows Trump leading Clinton by 2 points. In that poll Clinton’s negative favorability rating was actually worse than Trump -14% compared to Trump’s -9%.  Voter enthusiasm is down compared to polling they did at this time in 2012 and 2008.

A poll conducted and released after the CNN/ORC poll shows Clinton leading by two points. The Economist/YouGov poll shows Clinton with a two point lead over Trump 40% to 38%. In this poll Clinton has a -10% negative favorability rating. Trump’s was far worse in this poll at -28%. Two more polls conducted recently has Hillary up by 2 points over Trump – 42% to 40% and 4 points – 41% to 37%.

Yes the polls are tightening, there is every indication that this will be a close popular vote race. It’s important not to just jump on one poll. While Trump supporters and surrogates are lauding the CNN/ORC poll there are three more polls that show Clinton with the lead.

Two keys for this election. The first is who will the voters dislike less? Both are wildly unpopular. It appears that the tightening has more to do with Clinton’s unpopularity spiking as a result of the Clinton Foundation scandal and the transcripts of her interview with the FBI being released. This is coupled with Trump not making any significant mistakes the last couple weeks.

The electoral map still looks troubling for Trump. As it stands right now without the toss-up states Clinton has a 229 to 154 electoral vote advantage. A significant change for Trump is that Virginia’s status was changed from likely Clinton back to a toss-up state.

If you look at polling, as it stands today, Clinton would win 340 to 198 and the map would look like this.

screenshot-2016-09-07-14-48-51

The best pathway for Trump includes North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Wisconsin. He absolutely has to win those states and hold Iowa, Missouri and Arizona.

He could flip Virginia with 13 electoral college points. Currently Trump trails Clinton by an RCP average of 6.3 points in Virginia polling the 4-way race. In early August one poll had Trump trailing by 11 points, another by 7 points. The last four-way poll has him down by just 1 point.

Flipping Virginia alone doesn’t do the job. That would make the result 327 to 211 Clinton.

Clinton holds a 0.3 point average lead in North Carolina with two polls giving Trump a slight lead in a four-way race, and one giving Clinton a 4 point lead. Clinton has a 3.3 point average lead in Ohio. Clinton has a 2.7% average polling lead in Florida. In Nevada Trump trails Clinton by an average of 2.3%. There hasn’t been a poll taken since mid-August, and only one four-way poll has been taken and that was also in mid-August. Clinton has a 4.4% average lead in Wisconsin four-way race polling.

In Iowa Trump has a 1 point average lead in four-way polling. The latest poll has Trump up by five points. Trump holds a 6 point average lead in Missouri. In Arizona Trump holds a 2.2 point average lead.

Clinton still could cherry pick Georgia away from Trump. He currently leads by a 0.4 point average of four-way polls, but the last polling was done in mid-August. I suspect Trump will extend his lead in Georgia by the time the next poll is taken. The last two polls taken in Georgia has Trump up by 4 points.

For Trump to overcome the electoral college map deficit is not impossible, but it is a tall order.

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