North Carolina alone illustrates the challenge for the Trump campaign, a state that Barack Obama won in 2008 and Mitt Romney barely won in 2012, it’s a must win to get elected this year. The latest CBS News/YouGov poll in the state shows Hillary Clinton leading by two percent, 44 to 42 percent, over The Donald. The newest PPP survey of North Carolina has Trump leading 48 to 46 percent. Trump should have an edge in North Carolina, but right now it is a toss-up.
The neighboring state of Virginia is more solidly leaning in favor of Clinton, who has a 4 percent lead in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls. Virginia voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 and looks likely to be in the Clinton column this year.
The state of Florida, which was won by Obama in the last two elections, also looks favorable for Hillary, who leads by 3.4 percent in the RCP average and 8 percent in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Four of the five polls of Florida, in the RCP average, show Clinton leading by three percent or more. It is clear, if the election were held today, Florida would be voting for the Democrat nominee for president.
Pennsylvania is truly a toss-up state right now, and that may be good news for Trump, since the state has been won by the Democrats in the last three elections. While Clinton leads by just a half point in the RCP average, Pennsylvania is a state where Trump can win many traditionally Democrat-learning swing voters and win the state in November. If Trump can hold some of the close states that usually lean Republican, such as North Carolina and Indiana, and win some of the “light blue” states like Pennsylvania, he has a chance at beating Hillary in the Electoral College.
New Hampshire has been very closed, and based largely on turnout in the last several elections, but Hillary is holding a rather large 6.5 percent lead in the RCP average. While New Hampshire casts only four electoral votes, those four votes were key for George W. Bush reaching 270 electoral votes in 2000. Odds are, the candidate that wins New Hampshire will win the election, and right now it’s not looking good for Trump in New Hampshire.
Ohio, considered by most a swing state, should be a toss-up right now. But it leans in favor of Hillary by 2.7 percent in the RCP average, which includes a CBS News/YouGov survey showing Clinton leading by five percent, and the last Quinnipiac poll showing them tied at 40 percent each. Ohio is a state that Trump should be able to win, and needs to win, in order to become president. But if attacks ads from Priorities USA against Trump as anywhere near as effective as they were again Mitt Romney in 2012, where they clearly helped Obama in Ohio, Hillary Clinton will win both Ohio and the presidency this coming November.
Michigan is one of the states the Trump campaign supposedly will put into play, despite it having been a “blue” state in most recent elections. But the polling data says otherwise, where the last four polls listed by RCP shows Hillary Clinton leading by an average of more than 10 percent in those four surveys. Michigan is clearly going to be in the Clinton column in November.
Iowa has been close in the last few presidential elections, and this year should be no different. Lacking recent polling data for the state, it only seems reasonable at this point to consider the state a toss-up. The last survey listed by RCP, a PPP poll, show Trump and Clinton tied at 42 percent in Iowa.
While many consider Colorado as becoming a “blue” state, and it has voted Democrat in recent presidential elections, a recent CBS News/YouGov poll show it a toss-up, with Clinton leading by one percent, 40 to 39 percent over Donald Trump. Colorado could be a key pickup for Trump if he can win the state, as it could off-season losing another state elsewhere.
Arizona is closer than it should be, and like North Carolina, illustrates the weakness of the Trump campaign right now. That could change, but the Trump campaign will need to do the changing. Clinton holds a one percent lead in the RCP average for Arizona. That average includes one poll where Trump leads by four percent, one that has Hillary leading by seven percent, and a third older poll showing them tied. Arizona is a must win state for Trump, and if Hillary somehow wins it, it becomes almost impossible for Trump to win this election. The mere notion that Arizona is a toss-up, which it is, shows that Trump has some real challenges in winning this election.
As the map shows, the toss-up states are worth 61 electoral votes, and that includes Arizona and North Carolina (26 electoral votes) that Mitt Romney won in 2012. The fact that any states won by Mitt Romney are in play in this election at this time, shows serious weakness electorally for Donald Trump. The remaining 35 electoral votes (Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Colorado) of the states that are toss-ups were won Obama in the last two elections.
But the real challenge for Trump is the 297 electoral votes in the states that are leaning in favor of Hillary Clinton right now. Even if Trump won all those toss-up states, and holds on to the 180 electoral votes of the states that lean toward him now, he would only win 241 electoral votes, falling short of the needed 270. Trump would have to, at minimum, also win New Hampshire and Florida (33 electoral votes) to have a shot at reaching 270.
The Donald is going to have to spent a lot of time and resources in Florida and New Hampshire while holding on to many of the other close states where Hillary Clinton has a chance. It’s an uphill climb for Trump, but the electoral map looks much better for Clinton right now. But, we have nothing but time between now and November, and a lot can still change.