The Slatest

Polls Suggest Tighter Presidential Race, but Trump Continues to Face Uphill Battle

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton finish their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 19.









Mike Blake/Reuters

The race for the presidency appears to be much tighter than it seemed a week ago. Although Hillary Clinton continues to have the clear advantage in the road to electoral college victory, things aren’t looking as easy as they did only a few days ago.

Several tracking polls are hinting at a closer election, and surveys of battleground states also suggest a few weak points for the Democratic candidate with a little more than a week before Election Day. This trend is clearly evident in the RealClearPolitics poll average that now shows Clinton with a 3.4-point advantage, compared with 5.6 points one week ago. Perhaps the most dramatic turnaround is evidenced in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll that says Clinton has a measly one-point advantage—quite the change from the 12-point margin she enjoyed last week.

Beyond the national polls, there are also other state-specific surveys that are unlikely to be making Clinton’s campaign very happy. There are two polls that show Clinton’s advantage in Florida has declined markedly. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows her with a one-point lead in Florida while a New York Times/Siena poll has even worse news for Clinton as Trump is ahead by four points—46 percent to 42 percent.

Despite the bad Florida news, Clinton can take solace in other battleground states considering she is still clearly ahead in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado, according to the CBS News Battleground Tracker. It’s difficult to see how Trump could open up a path to victory while losing both North Carolina and Pennsylvania, notes Politico.

Although it’s way too early to determine how the revelation that the FBI has discovered emails that could be pertinent to the investigation into Clinton’s private server will affect the presidential race, there are hints that it won’t matter too much. Even though a little more than 3 in 10 voters say the recent news on Clinton’s email makes it less likely they will support the Democratic candidate, those doubts appear to largely come from people who wouldn’t have voted for her anyway, according to the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll. The CBS battlegrounds poll also found a similar dynamic, noting the reaction reflects the polarized nature of the race. “Nothing that [FBI Director James] Comey or Clinton could do in the last nine days would make a Democrat vote for Donald Trump. I also think there’s not much they can do to make them not vote,” Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, tells Bloomberg.

There’s also reason for Clinton optimism in early-voter turnout data. The New York Times explains:

At least 21 million people have voted so far across the country. In the states that are most likely to decide the election—among them Florida, Colorado and Nevada—close to a quarter of the electorate has already cast ballots. While their votes will not be counted until Election Day, registered Democrats are outperforming Republicans in key demographics and urban areas there and in North Carolina, where extensive in-person voting began late last week and which has emerged as one of the most closely contested battlegrounds for the White House and control of the Senate.

That, of course, doesn’t mean things can’t change in the last week of the election.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.