A recent round of polls in battleground states shows the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump much tighter than national polling.
Traditional swing states show a battle similar to the fight in 2012 between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, with one exception. The emergence of Pennsylvania as a toss-up contest has already shifted the landscape ahead of November.
On Thursday, Democrat-leaning firm PPP released a poll of Virginia voters showing Clinton leading Trump by 3 points in the Old Dominion. Last year, PPP showed Clinton leading Trump by 10 points in Virginia. Since then, Clinton’s favorablity has decreased, while Trump’s has improved.
Trump is still slightly more unpopular than Clinton in Virginia, yet the head-to-head match-up is within the margin of error. Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by just 4 points in Virginia, essentially the same result currently polled between Trump and Clinton.
So, even though 60 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of Trump, he is tied with Clinton in Virginia. Clinton leads among women by just 11 points, only slightly better than Obama’s 9-point margin with women against Romney. Trump leads Clinton by 4 points among men, the same margin that Romney won against Obama.
When third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are added to the match-up, though, Trump’s edge among men jumps to 7 points, while Clinton’s edge among women remains at 11 points.
A PPP survey of Pennsylvania conducted in early June shows a very close race in the Keystone State. A head-to-head match-up between Clinton and Trump is tied, with each drawing 44 percent support. There is an enormous gender gap in the commonwealth, with Trump holding a slight edge.
Clinton leads Trump by 20 points among women in Pennsylvania. Trump, however has a 22-point lead among men. With third party candidates included, Clinton has an 18 point lead among women, while Trump has an 18 point lead among men.
Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders does better with women than Hillary Clinton, though. He leads Trump among women by 26 points, significantly higher than Clinton’s margin. Against Sanders, too, Trump does worse among men, leading the Senator by just 3 points.
In Florida, a PPP survey from early June finds Trump leading Clinton by 1 point. In the past 4 Presidential elections, Florida has been decided by less than 5 points. President Obama defeated Mitt Romney by less than 1 point in 2012 in the Sunshine State.
A Marquette University survey of Wisconsin conducted last week showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 9 points in the Badger State. President Obama won Wisconsin by 7 points in 2012 and 13 points in 2008.
Democrat Russ Feingold leads incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson by 9 points also in the state’s contest for the US Senate. It is noteworthy that Trump is polling exactly the same as another Republican running for federal office in Wisconsin. It is also interesting that the state’s current polling picture falls squarely in the middle of the state’s election results in the past two elections.
In the past two weeks, Hillary Clinton has enjoyed a bump in national polls following her clinching of the Democrat nomination. The benefit she received is about equal to the bump Trump enjoyed in early May, after he wrapped up the Republican nomination.
National polls are interesting, of course, but they don’t completely reflect the fact that Presidents are elected in a series of state contests. In recent surveys of the battleground states, the contest between Trump and Clinton is very tight, with each able to lay claim to some advantage.
Given the constant apocryphal warnings about Trump’s poll numbers and his unpopularity with large numbers of voters, it is very telling that the race is essentially a toss-up in the states where the contest will be decided. He is currently running no worse than Mitt Romney did or even, in places such as Pennsylvania or Virginia, running better than the 2012 nominee.
Few pundits appreciate nor acknowledge how unpopular Hillary Clinton is herself. Any other Democrat likely would be running away with the contest at this early stage in the election, especially given how Sanders matches up against Trump.
Democrats bent innumerable party rules to ensure Hillary Clinton won their nomination. They may still live to regret that decision.