Can Donald Trump win? It's possible, but certainly a long shot. On the morning of the election, Hillary Clinton holds the edge over Trump, though her once commanding national lead now stands at 3 points and she's lost the advantage in several key battleground states. Once hopelessly behind in the electoral count, Trump has pulled within striking distance over the last two weeks, but will need a last-minute miracle to pull off the win. Real Clear Politics' electoral map based on state poll averages shows Clinton barely edging Trump 272 to 266.
After suffering a bloody October, where all of the business mogul's positive momentum from September was undone, he climbed again in the national polls over the last two weeks of the campaign, while Clinton faltered following a series of deeply damaging headlines, most notably the reopening of the FBI's investigation into her private email server. Trump goes into election day edging out Clinton in some key battleground states, including Nevada and North Carolina, and leads by 3 or more points in Iowa, Arizona and the traditional swing state of Ohio. The tightly contested swing state of Florida is a virtual dead heat, with Trump barely edging Clinton by 0.2%. He has also closed the gap significantly in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Michigan, but remains down by 2, 3 and 3.4 points in the states, respectively.
Real Clear Politics' average of state polls, without any "toss-up" states included, currently gives Clinton 203 electoral votes and Trump 164 — a 69-vote fall for Clinton since late October, when she held 272 electoral votes, and a 28-vote gain for Trump. A candidate must garner 270 votes to win the presidency. Below is RCP's Electoral College Map based on current state poll averages as of the morning of Nov. 8:
RCP's No Toss Ups Map shows Clinton barely besting Trump 272 to 266. (On Nov. 6, the tally was 297 to 241, the major differences being Trump regaining the edge in Florida and Clinton winning back New Hampshire. Two weeks ago the count was 333 to 205.):
As of Nov. 7, RCP's general election average for the four-candidate race — which includes the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein — finds Clinton with a 3.3% advantage (45.5 – 42.2), a 2-point slide from two weeks ago and a 4-point slide from mid-October, but a 1-point improvement over the last few days. Ten of RCP's eleven featured polls show Clinton ahead. IBD/TIPP shows Trump with a 2-point advantage. Clinton's largest lead is 6 points (Monmouth).
As of Nov. 7, RCP's head-to-head survey average finds Clinton holding an almost identical 3.2-point lead (46.8 to 43.6), down 3 points since mid-October. Clinton leads in nine of RCP's ten featured polls, her largest lead 6 points (Monmouth). Trump leads by 3 percent in the LA Times/USC tracking poll, which has consistently shown more favorable numbers for the Republican than other polls, a result the pollsters attribute to the survey including a "bloc of disaffected [Trump] voters" ignored by others.
FAVORABILITY & BETTING ODDS
Both candidates have been polling at higher negatives than any previous two presidential frontrunners, even during times when one candidate has experienced positive movement. Clinton's favorability by average currently sits at -13 points (down 4 points in the last two weeks), while Trump's favorability is 7.2 points worse at -20.2, around which he has hovered for the last month.
After tightening two weeks ago, the betting odds have improved by 10 points for Clinton over the last few days. Clinton is now favored, 81.6% to 18%.
While national polls and favorability ratings are important indicators of the overall popularity of candidates, the state-by-state polls are, of course, what really matters. Below are the most recent polling numbers for 16 battleground states, including the three traditional key swing states.
FLORIDA: Trump +0.2
In Florida, as of Nov. 6, RCP's poll average finds Clinton and Trump locked in a virtual dead heat. In the four-way surveys, Trump holds a razor-thin 0.2-point edge (46.6 – 46.4). Out of the three most recent polls, Clinton leads in two (+2 and +1 point), and Trump leads in one (+4 points). Clinton led the state by over 4 points in mid-August and over 2 points in mid-October. Trump led the state by a narrow margin at the end of October.
OHIO: Trump +3.5
Over the last week, Trump has maintained about a 3-point lead in Ohio. As of Nov. 5, Trump leads by 3.5% (45.8 – 42.3) in the four-way polls, a slight improvement for Trump over the last few days. Trump held an over 3-point lead in the first week of October, after which point the race tightened for a few weeks before moving again in his favor. Clinton led by 5 points in late August.
PENNSYLVANIA: Clinton +1.9
Clinton's once dominant lead In Pennsylvania dramatically decreased over the final two weeks of the campaign. As of Nov. 5, Clinton holds only a 1.9-point lead in the four-way surveys (46.2– 44.3), a more than 6-point slip from a month ago, when she held an over 9-point lead, and within the margin of error.
OTHER BATTLEGROUND STATES
Below are thirteen other battleground states ranked from narrowest to widest margins (numbers based on RCP’s averages as of Nov. 7 of the most current surveys). In general, over the last two weeks most of the races have moved in Trump's direction, with the Republican managing to flip three key states (Nevada, North Carolina and Arizona). He has also made major gains in Colorado, which is down to less than 3 points, and Michigan, down to 3.4 points. Trump holds a comfortable lead in both Arizona and Georgia and has built a 3-point lead in Iowa. He briefly led in New Hampshire, but Clinton has edged him out in the last few days, but only by a very narrow margin (+0.6). Trump currently leads in five of the thirteen states listed below (he led in only 2 last week).
Over the last week, Clinton lost the leads she held in October in Nevada and North Carolina and slipped further behind Trump in Arizona, where the two candidates had been trading leads for the last two months. She's also seen her once comfortable lead in New Hampshire vanish, locked in a virtual tie with Trump. In five of the battleground states listed below, Clinton has a 4-point advantage or better, though most of the gaps tightened in the last week of the election.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Clinton +0.6 (43.3 – 42.7)
NEVADA: Trump +0.8 (45.8 – 45)
NORTH CAROLINA: Trump +1 (46.5 – 45.5)
COLORADO: Clinton +2.9 (43.3 – 40.4)
IOWA: Trump +3 (44.3 – 41.3)
MICHIGAN: Clinton +3.4 (45.4 – 42)
ARIZONA: Trump +4 (46.3 – 42.3)
MAINE: Clinton +4.5 (44 – 39.5)
GEORGIA: Trump +4.6 (48.4 – 43.8)
MINNESOTA: Clinton +5 (45.3 – 40.3)
NEW MEXICO: Clinton +5 (45.3 – 40.3)
VIRGINIA: Clinton +5 (47.3 – 42.3)
WISCONSIN: Clinton +6.5 (46.8 – 40.3)
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Clinton, who once held an 11-point lead by average in late March, saw her commanding lead evaporate over the next four months. After dramatic movement for Trump in late May, including a brief national lead following the Republican National Convention and the FBI's damaging report on Clinton's private email server, the two candidates were deadlocked at 44.3% on July 29, the day after the Democratic National Convention. Over the next three weeks, however, Clinton built an 8-point lead nationally. In late August, Clinton's lead began to slip as Trump made a series of smart political moves—including visiting Louisiana in the aftermath of the flooding, meeting with the president of Mexico, and giving a number of strong policy speeches—while Clinton appeared to be bunkering down amid more bad headlines about the Clinton Foundation, her private email server, and her continued health problems. In October, Clinton's lead, which hovered at around 2 points, began to climb after Trump's sub-par debate performance, ugly public feud with a former Miss Universe, the release of a decade-old recording of him making lewd comments about women, and a series of accusations of sexual harassment. Though the damning revelations about the Clinton campaign and the investigation into her emails had largely been ignored by the media and the wider public through most of October, the FBI's bombshell announcement on Oct. 28 that it had reopened the investigation into her private server has dramatically impacted polling. Though Trump has seen positive movement in the final week of the campaign, he has not managed to take the lead in the national average or the electoral map.
Below is RCP's interactive graph of the head-to-head surveys:
This article has been updated to reflect the most recent survey data.