Trump has pulled into the lead in Florida and Ohio, two crucial states where he has trailed Clinton for most of the race, and several states that once looked out of reach for Trump such as Colorado and Virginia, suddenly appear competitive.
One survey showed Trump in an upswing in Nevada, a state that President Obama carried on both of his presidential campaigns. A poll of Iowa for the first time in seven elections found, a GOP nominee, Trump ahead by eight points. The uptick in national polls is equally dramatic.
Clinton led Trump by an average of 7.6 percentage points one month ago, however, her advantage is down to a meager 1.1 percent, if you believe the RealClearPolitics average.
Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray said, “No question there’s a movement toward Trump right now.” “When the media is focused on one candidate over the other, it’s generally negative. The media has been focused on Clinton and her health, and Trump smartly did not try to steal the limelight from her.”
The polls changed amid a brutal stretch for Clinton, who started last weekend by lumping half of Trump’s supporters into a “basket of deplorables” and then suffered a dramatic health debacle at a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York, revealing later a pneumonia diagnosis. While the Clinton campaign has not showed signs of panic, it’s bringing in the big gun politicians to double down on her campaign in the state.
Democrats can take satisfaction in the Electoral College map that gives Trump a narrow path to the necessary 270 votes. To win, he will need a blue state like New Hampshire or Pennsylvania, where he is still behind. Yet the race is unquestionably moving into unknown territory as Trump and Clinton prepare for a long awaited debate by voters on September 26, 2016. A CBS News-New York Times poll released on Thursday showed Trump and Clinton locked at 42 percent support nationally.
Forecasting models from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and Frontloading HQ still indicate Clinton with an Electoral College advantage. However, FiveThirtyEight’s forecasting model, run by data guru Nate Silver, finds Clinton’s likelihood of victory is down from nearly 90 percent in August with 62 percent.
Analysts never had to handicap a race with two candidates, historically as unpopular as Trump and Clinton. There are still a number of undecided voters, and interest in the third-party candidates remains a wild card. Those variables have pollsters straining to forecast a turnout, and more importantly, the likely make-up of the electorate.
This uncertainty has fueled debate about polling methodologies as outlets have turned from sampling registered voters to screening respondents for those they think are likeliest to vote. “It’s hard to know what the polls mean right now because the vast majority are motivated to vote against the other candidate,” Murray said. “We’ve never had a situation like this. It’s unprecedented. You can’t compare it to anything in modern times.”