© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NPR Battleground Map: Hillary Clinton Solidifies Lead Against Donald Trump

Donald Trump's missteps since the conventions have put Hillary Clinton in a dominant position.

If the election were held today, according to the latest NPR analysis of polling, demographics and on-the-ground reporting, Clinton would win in a landslide of 2008 proportions. She has solidified her leads in key battleground states and crosses the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House in the NPR Battleground Map with just states where she already has a significant lead.

In other words, she could lose all of the toss-up states — Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada and Georgia, yes, Georgia now — and still win, as you can see in the map above, 273-174.

Trump has battled a litany of bad headlines, including feuding with a family whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq, declined to support (before endorsing) key Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, joked that "Second Amendment people" could do something about Clinton, and charged that President Obama (and Clinton) "founded" ISIS. He even said he wanted a crying baby taken out of a rally — after a minute earlier saying he liked it. (He later said he would "sponsor" it. ("And the baby will sing someday in Philharmonic Hall," he said.)

It has meant that key voting groups have moved more toward Hillary Clinton. NPR's Asma Khalid, for example, reported on how white, college-educated voters are converting to Clinton. That's a demographic found in important places, like the suburbs of Philadelphia, Denver and Northern Virginia.

It's been about the worst month any Republican who wants Trump to win could have feared.

Just looking at the polling ...

Clinton 363-174

That's pretty close to Barack Obama's 2008 margin of 365-173 over John McCain. That might be, if not the high-water mark for Clinton, pretty darn close to it. There aren't a lot more states that could go her way.

Of course, few things are likely to remain constant almost three months out from Election Day — and this is just a look at where things stand now. The next big chances Trump has to change the dynamics are the debates. The first is Sept. 26 on Long Island, N.Y., followed by the vice presidential debate Oct. 4 in Virginia, then the second presidential one Oct. 9 in St. Louis and the final debate 10 days later in Las Vegas.

Explaining our changes

Overall, most of our adjustments favored Clinton, including moving the key state of Pennsylvania back into the Lean D column from Tossup, where it stood for a month. There is almost no path for Trump without Pennsylvania.

We also moved three traditionally red states in Clinton's direction — Georgia to Tossup from Lean R; Utah to Lean R from Likely R; and one electoral vote in Nebraska to Tossup from Lean R.

Georgia has seen massive demographic change over the past decade — going from two-thirds white in 2000 to 53-47 percent white to nonwhite now. Remember, Obama only lost it by 5 points in 2008. Some polls are actually showing Clinton in the lead, though both are only in the low 40s. History says this one likely moves back to the Republican column, but for now, it's a Tossup.

In Utah, another poll showed Clinton and Trump within a couple points of each other. There are still a huge number of undecided voters. How much of a factor Gary Johnson will be is a key question. If he can get to the high teens or 20 points, there's a path for Clinton to win it. While we're talking about Johnson, it would be very interesting to see polling in Montana, a place that has a big libertarian streak — and that went for Bill Clinton in 1992, when Ross Perot got more than a quarter of the vote in the state.

And in Nebraska, it splits its votes out by congressional district. Obama won the Omaha-area district, which is far more nonwhite than the rest of the state, in 2008; the Democratic House incumbent Brad Ashford is favored there, and Omaha-based billionaire Warren Buffett is promising to help Clinton there. Let's see where this one moves in the next month or so.

Despite Trump's bad three weeks, he has seemed to hold up in a couple of states that were Lean D — Florida and Nevada. They've moved to Tossup now, as more polling has come out. Given demographics — and Clinton's turnout operation — both states, it could be argued, are favorable for Clinton. But the RNC, which is supplementing Trump's on-the-ground operation, has moved staff to Florida to try to save the state.

The ratings:

Clinton 273-174

Safe D (164): California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine* (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington, D.C. (3), Washington state (12)
Likely D (37): Maine (1), Minnesota (10), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7)
Lean D (72): Colorado (9), Michigan (16), New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10)
Pure Tossup (91): Florida (29), Georgia (16), Iowa (6), Nebraska* (1), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18)
Lean R (17): Arizona (11), Utah (6)
Likely R (21): Indiana (11), Missouri (10),
Safe R (136): Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 16, 2016 at 12:00 AM EDT
In a previous audio version of this report, we said that no Democratic presidential candidate had won the state of Georgia since 1976. In fact, Bill Clinton won the state in 1992.
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.