The first 2016 survey of South Carolina shows a tight race in a state not won by a Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Public Policy finds Donald Trump leading by 2 points 41%-39%, with 5% supporting Gary Johnson.
The surprisingly narrow margin seems to be office-specific, as the same poll found incumbent Republican Senator Tim Scott with a 17 point lead over his Democratic challenger.
Hillary Clinton continues to get good news in the polls. Today it is from Wisconsin. The mid-August release of the well-respected Marquette Law poll gives her a 15 point lead over Donald Trump, a gain of 11 points from mid-July. Including 3rd parties, the lead remains well into double digits.
The latest version of the Electoral Map based on polling gives Hillary Clinton a 249-164 lead over Donald Trump. 125 electoral votes, from nine states and Maine's 2nd District are currently seen as toss-ups. For purposes of the polling map, a toss-up state is where the average difference between Clinton and Trump is five points are less. Leaning states are 5-10 points, with the darkest blue or red reserved for states where the 2016 presidential polls show a spread of greater than ten points.
The map shows that the battlegrounds of recent elections remain competitive, with Georgia and Arizona also looking to be in play. It is also worth noting that if the above map plays out, Florida becomes a must win for the Trump campaign, as a loss there puts Clinton over 270 electoral votes.
State-level polling should begin to pick up in earnest in the weeks ahead, so the map will undoubtedly shift as that happens, and as the campaigns decide the level of resources to commit in each state.
Note that we've slightly modified the methodology with this update. For states with no current polling (nothing after April), we are basing the categorization on a combination of what polling is available and the 2012 actual margin of victory. If no polling at all, then it is exclusively based on 2012. This moved a few states that were not particularly competitive in 2012, but that were shown as toss-up based on a single, outdated poll, into the leaning category. These include Alaska, Minnesota, Mississippi and South Carolina.
Dan Jones & Associates is out with their latest survey of Utah voters, finding little change in the standing of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump since their last poll in June. Trump leads Clinton by 12 points, 37% to 25%. Perhaps the most noticeable finding is the spike in support for Libertarian Gary Johnson, who gained 6 points since the June poll. At 16%, this is the highest number we've seen for Johnson in any poll to date. The former New Mexico governor is now closer to Clinton in 2nd than she is to Trump.
Interestingly, in 1992, Bill Clinton finished 3rd in the state, behind George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. The independent Perot received over 27% of Utah's vote that year, slightly less than he received in Alaska and Maine.
Utah has not voted for a Democratic nominee since 1964.
It is worth noting that the field dates for this poll were July 18 through August 4. That is an extended period, during which both conventions were held.
Three months out from the November 8 presidential election, the Associated Press reports that "Hillary Clinton doesn't appear all that interested in making scenic stops on her state-to-state quest to become president. The Democratic nominee is instead programming her GPS to take her on the quickest route to collect the 270 Electoral College votes she needs to win the White House.
With three months until Election Day, Clinton's campaign is focused on capturing the battleground states that have decided the most recent presidential elections, not so much on expanding the map.
Clinton's team doesn't rule out an effort at Arizona, a state with a booming population of Latino voters that polls find are loath to support Trump. And Georgia, a bastion of the Deep South, echoes recent population trends in other Southeastern states where Clinton is competing aggressively.
But neither is among the 11 battleground states that Clinton's television advertising plans and her travel schedule point to as her focus. Those states are the perennial top-tier targets Florida and Ohio, plus Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. President Barack Obama carried them all in 2008, and missed out on only North Carolina during his 2012 re-election campaign."
Here's how the strategy looks on the electoral map. Click or tap it to create and share your own election forecast:
The Road to 270
As you create your forecast, keep an eye on The Road to 270 feature below the interactive map. There you can view all the combinations to reach 270 electoral votes for either Clinton or Trump, as well as any remaining tie possibilities. This automatically updates with each change you make to the map.
For example, with the map above, Clinton and Trump both have over 150 paths to 270, with numerous tie combinations remaining:
Click or tap on the number of combinations to view them individually, sorted from most to least likely based on the polls. You can also use the filters to see how many of the options involve each state, or a combination of states.
This feature becomes especially useful as the number of undecided states on your map declines. You'll begin to see states that are 'must win', as well as states that no longer matter in the path to 270.
A new Georgia poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives Hillary Clinton a four point lead in a head-head match-up with Donald Trump. When 3rd party candidates are tested, the lead is three, with Libertarian Gary Johnson breaking into double digits at 11%.
Georgia has not voted for the Democratic nominee since 1992, when Bill Clinton won the state on the way to winning his first term over incumbent George H.W. Bush. Clinton won the state by just 0.6%, the closest state race that year. Interestingly, it was also the last time a 3rd party candidate received a double digit share of the popular vote. Ross Perot won 13.3% of the vote that year in Georgia, 19% nationwide.
Hillary Clinton has opened up an average lead of almost 8% in national polling. She's led each such poll since the Democratic convention, leveraging a bounce from that event with Donald Trump's bad week to build a fairly sizeable lead.
Several battleground state polls have been released this week, and they are largely showing the same. A Suffolk poll out today gives Clinton a 6 point lead in Florida, while Franklin & Marshall finds her with an 11 point lead in Pennsylvania. In New Hampshire, Clinton leads by 17 and she's even slightly ahead in traditionally deep-red Arizona.
The Florida finding was particularly interesting, as the same pollster found Senator Marco Rubio with a double-digit lead over either of his likely challengers. (The Florida Senate primary is August 30).
The polling averages help us create the Electoral Map Based on Polls. Almost every state* has now been polled in 2016. Here's how the map currently looks:
Click or tap the image above to see the interactive version of the polling map which you can use to create and share your own 2016 presidential election forecast.
* Fewer than 10 states (+DC) have not been polled in 2016; these are all safe red or blue states and are reflected as such on the map. See the bottom of the polling average page for the specific states.
Colorado has moved from toss-up to leaning Clinton in the August 1 update of the Consensus Pundit Electoral Map. This is the only change in recent weeks, as there have been few modifications to state-level forecasts during the convention period.
With the race now set, and state polling likely to become more frequent in the near future, we'll update the map more often. This August 1 update is a good baseline for the start of the general election campaign:
Interestingly, aside from Iowa, all the true toss-up states (as seen by the pundits) are currently in the Eastern Time Zone.
To arrive at the consensus map, we assign a point value to each rating category. From there we calculate the average rating. Those average ratings determine the consensus rating, which may or may not be the most frequent one. For example, only states rated safe by all seven pundits are shown in the darkest shade of blue or red.
A New York Times article out this weekend discusses the Trump campaign's electoral strategy for this fall. Citing "a daunting electoral map and a significant financial disadvantage", most of the time and money will be spent on just a few states. "It now looks exceedingly difficult for him to assemble even the barest Electoral College majority without beating Hillary Clinton in a trifecta of the biggest swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania." The campaign also believes it must win North Carolina.
Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio represent 67 electoral votes. All three were won by Obama in 2008 and 2012; Pennsylvania has not voted Republican since 1988. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.
Let's start with the 2012 electoral map, and assume Trump is able to win these three states, with North Carolina not yet decided.
North Carolina would then loom decisive. That state, reliably Republican for several decades, has become much more of a swing state. Obama won it in 2008, while it went for Romney in 2012. In both years the margin of victory was the 2nd smallest in the country. 2016 could be just as tight. (This past week, a federal appeals court struck down the state's voter ID law which, the court said, suppressed African-American turnout at the polls. In a close race, this decision could make a difference).
Utah as Wild Card?
This is a bit far-fetched, but we're still a few months out, so fun to game out different possibilities. Let's say Trump wins North Carolina, and the above strategy is completely successful. He has 273 electoral votes and wins the presidency, assuming everything else stays the same. However, what if one state doesn't stay true to form? What if Utah voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson? We'll take a look at this using our 3-way electoral map:
Republicans have won Utah every election, often by a wide margin, since 1968. That year was also the last time a 3rd party won a state. While still unlikely to change this year, Gary Johnson has been seeing low double-digit support in limited polling. Donald Trump is not well-liked in the Mormon community and there is some possibility that Mitt Romney will endorse him. (Alternately, although we've seen nothing to support this, there remains time for Romney himself to register as an independent. The deadline for that in Utah is August 15.)
A 3rd party win in Utah, in the above scenario, would throw the election to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote. While Republicans control the majority of these state delegations, nothing is guaranteed at that point.
With the close of the Democratic convention, the 102 day general election campaign is finally underway. It's likely to be nasty.
Politico reports that "the reality is that both parties, saddled with two of the most unpopular presidential nominees ever, are bracing for one of the ugliest and most divisive races in modern history. And with Trump’s penchant for the unpredictable, a contest that has already stretched the boundaries of traditional American political discourse is unlikely to become more civil."
As the campaign gets underway, the national polls show a very close race. Clinton leads by 1.6% on average; a number that is cut in half when just looking at polls that have included Gary Johnson and/or Jill Stein. It's important to note that the most recent polls reflect a convention bounce for Trump; we may see an expansion in Clinton's lead as the first post-Democratic convention polls are released. It will likely take a few weeks for things to settle down.