HUFFPOLLSTER: Donald Trump Could Be Gaining In Key Swing States

New polls show a closer race in several battleground states.

Hillary Clinton’s prospects for a landslide victory have slid. Democrats’ attempts to take back the House remain a steeply uphill battle. And Americans are still worried about the threat of terrorism.This is HuffPollster for Friday, September 9, 2016.

FLORIDA, OHIO, NORTH CAROLINA REMAIN CLOSE CONTESTS - National polls have shown Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump eroding slightly in the first week of September, and now it looks like a trio of crucial swing states might be following suit.

Florida - A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found Clinton and Trump tied at 47-47 in a two-way race, and 43-43 in a four-way contest, with Libertarian Gary Johnson getting 8 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein taking 2 percent. Most of the August polls in the state showed Clinton leading, at times by substantial margins, but Quinnipiac is the second since the beginning of September to indicate that lead might be narrowing. The HuffPost Pollster average has Clinton up by 3.5 points, but expect that to close in if more polls show a tighter race.

Ohio - Trump has a narrow 1-point edge against Clinton in the Buckeye State, according to Quinninpiac. He fares slightly better in the four-way contest, earning a 4-point lead over Clinton. As in Florida, Clinton held the lead in Ohio throughout August, but September poll releases are showing a different race. The HuffPost Pollster average still has Clinton ahead, but only by a single percentage point.

North Carolina - The two latest polls of the state, despite similar methodology and field dates, arrive at disparate conclusions. Quinnipiac shows Clinton with a 4-point Clinton, with or without Johnson included, while a Suffolk University poll gives Trump a 3-point lead. The result of having two competing polls of roughly the same size is that neither dramatically affect the HuffPost Pollster model. Clinton has a 2.5 point average lead over Trump, but with a bit more uncertainty (wider shaded bands) than a few days ago.

ESTIMATES FROM NATIONAL POLLING SHOW CLINTON STRONGER IN OHIO AND FLORIDA - Cameron Easley and Morning Consult Polling: “Hillary Clinton would top Donald Trump 321-195 in electoral votes to clinch the White House if the election were held today, according to an extensive Morning Consult analysis of registered voters. But the 2016 presidential race is far from over.… The Democratic nominee sports small gains over Trump in Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The Republican standard bearer leads narrowly in Arizona, New Mexico and North Carolina. Georgia and Iowa remain pure toss-ups, with both candidates deadlocked at 40 percent…. While Ohio voters leaned toward him before, Clinton has now consolidated their support.” [Morning Consult]

These are not individual state surveys, though - The Morning Consult analysis uses national-level polling to estimate state level vote preferences using a technique called multilevel regression and poststratification, based on surveys of “more than 18,000 registered voters nationally throughout August 2016” ― which means a key caveat is in order: The presidential race shifted quite a bit during the month of August, with Trump gaining at the end of August and the initial week of September, as evident in the HuffPost Pollster national chart. Morning Consult does weight the later data more heavily, but including older data when the race has moved toward Trump in the last two weeks could explain why Clinton looks stronger in Ohio and Florida in this analysis than in more recent polls.

HOW WELL DO DEMOCRATS NEED TO DO TO TAKE BACK THE HOUSE? - Dave Wasserman: “ Conventional wisdom holds that a landslide Donald Trump loss could imperil Republicans down the ballot, because straight-ticket voting has been on the rise in recent years. But thanks to Trump, 2016 is not at all a ‘normal’ year, and the relationship between the top of the ticket and the down-ballot may not be so linear...In the 2014 midterms, Republicans carried about 51.4 percent of all votes cast for House to 45.7 for Democrats, and wound up with a 247 to 188 seat majority. Let’s say that in 2016, every Democratic candidate performs 6 percentage points better than their party’s 2014 nominee, and every Republican performs 6 percentage points worse. Democrats would win the House popular vote by 6.3 percentage points ― roughly in line with their current generic ballot lead. But amazingly, even in this ‘uniform swing’ scenario, Republicans would still hold the House majority by nine seats….The bottom line is: House Democrats will gain seats in 2016, but there probably isn’t any size Clinton victory that could guarantee them the majority. The question may be less how much Republicans will overperform Trump and more to what extent Trump underperforms other, more traditional Republicans.” [NBC]

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER 9/11, CONCERN ABOUT TERROR IS GROWING - Grace Sparks: “As the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, many Americans think terrorists are more capable of launching an attack on the U.S. than they were in 2001, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. Forty percent of adults think terrorists have improved in this regard, while 25 percent believe they are less capable of attacking the U.S. than they were in 2001. Nearly a third said the situation is about the same. This is the highest concern has been since 2002. Concern was lowest in February 2008.There’s a big partisan divide, though. More than half of Republicans ― 58 percent ― say that terrorists are now better able to attack the U.S. Only about a third of Democrats and independents share a similar belief, at 31 percent and 34 percent, respectively.” [HuffPost]

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FRIDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Nate Silver notes that polls show swing states tightening. [538]

-Nate Cohn shares some thoughts on assessing Hillary Clinton’s shrinking lead. [NYT]

-Voters say by a 10-point margin they expect Clinton to outperform Donald Trump at the debates. [CNN]

-Michael S. Lewis-Beck forecasts that President Obama’s approval will lift Clinton to a slim victory. [The Hill]

-Toni Monkovic finds 2016’s electoral map shaping up to look a lot like 2012’s. [NYT]

-Americans remains more negative than positive about the ACA. [Gallup]

-Farai Chideya questions whether black Americans’ reliability as a voting bloc has undermined their influence. [538]

-David F. Damore examines Latinos’ opinions on Trump’s immigration proposals. [Latino Decisions]

-The U.S. Latino population has grown more slowly since the onset of the Great Recession. [Pew]

-Carolyn Logan and E. Gyimah-Boadi highlight the threats faced by Africa’s largest public opinion survey. [WashPost]

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