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Election Update: National Polls Show Clinton’s Lead Stabilizing — State Polls, Not So Much

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We’re a couple of days removed from the point when almost every poll showed Hillary Clinton on a downward trajectory. Instead, polls over the past 24 hours have been more equivocal. National polls tend to suggest that Donald Trump’s momentum has halted, and that Clinton may even be regaining ground. But Trump is getting his share of good results in state polls, which both show competitive races in some of Clinton’s “firewall” states and favorable trend lines for Trump.

Starting with those national polls: Clinton has regained ground over the past couple days in the national tracking polls conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Los Angeles Times (although the LA Times poll continues to show Trump ahead, as it usually does). There aren’t really any national tracking polls that are still moving toward Trump at the moment, in fact, although some — like the IBD/TIPP tracking poll — show a steady race. We’re notably lacking in the major, one-off national polls conducted by news organizations such as CNN or NBC News. Those should begin to be released over the weekend, and they’ll have a lot of influence on the forecast. For the time being, however, the impression conveyed by the national polls is of a race in which Clinton bottomed out a few days ago — perhaps after the FBI news last Friday — and has now begun to recover.

But those state polls? Not a lot of good news for Clinton. There’s more data showing a tied race in New Hampshire. And Clinton’s lead in Pennsylvania is down to about 3 percentage points in our forecast. Polls in Michigan have also been tightening, with an unusually large number of undecided voters. Polling in New Mexico has been tight enough that we’re now considering it a “state to watch,” although that may reflect an abundance of caution. Clinton’s numbers have held up better in Wisconsin and Virginia, while the data has been very mixed in Colorado.

Just so you think I’m not cherry-picking, here’s every swing state poll we’ve added since our last Election Update at 7 p.m. last night. It includes the latest state-by-state tracking polls from SurveyMonkey, Ipsos and Pulse Opinion Research.


One thing you’ll notice is that there were very few traditional, live-caller polls in this bunch, so if you’re a Clinton fan who doesn’t trust online and automated polls, you might not have as much to worry about. We’re also seeing a fair number of automated polls from Republican-leaning firms with middling pollster ratings. Our model tries to adjust for that by weighting polls based on their pollster ratings and adjusting for “house effects” (persistent partisan leans toward one party or the other).

At a minimum, however, the map is getting messier for Clinton, changing a firewall of states that once seemed locked in. Nevada, for instance, could fairly easily leapfrog New Hampshire in her pecking order, especially given the early voting statistics there. You also shouldn’t rule out cases where Florida or North Carolina wind up being the tipping-point state as a result of a late decline for Clinton in Michigan or Pennsylvania.

Overall, Clinton’s Electoral College chances are 65 percent in the both the polls-only forecast and polls-plus forecasts, not much changed from yesterday. And she maintains about a 3-percentage-point lead over Trump in our national popular-vote forecast. It’s not clear that things are getting any worse for Clinton, but it’s also not clear that they’re getting better — and we’re at the point where even a 1-point swing in either direction would be a big deal, since a 4-point lead for Clinton would be quite a bit safer than a 2-point one.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.