The debates were detrimental to Trump, but he’s improved his standing since then and the recent bad news for Clinton only boosts his chances further. The renewed FBI probe into Clinton’s emails may have helped turn the tide for Trump, but he remains underwater in the fight for electoral votes. Clinton is still seen as leading in enough states to get her above 270. Yet, while Trump still has only a narrow path to victory, the last week has certainly made the race more competitive.
The Fox News Decision Team is moving Florida, the biggest prize among the battleground states, from Lean Democratic to Toss Up. The race is now neck-and-neck in the state with some polls showing Trump leading and some showing Clinton ahead. Florida is a must-win state for Trump and he now has a real shot at victory in the Sunshine State. Clinton’s support in the polls has held fairly constant, but Trump has added a couple of points to his average over the last week. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when we’re talking about a state that is so often hot, but the last week of this election season looks to have brought a dead-heat race for Florida and its 29 electoral votes.
We’re shifting Nevada from Lean Democrat to Toss Up. Some recent polling shows the state tightening as we enter the final days of the race. Clinton probably still maintains a slim edge in the Silver State, but the outcome is now more uncertain. About half a million Nevadans have already voted. Democrats currently have an eight-point advantage among those showing up to vote early and those who’ve mailed back their absentee ballots. Local political experts think it looks a lot like 2012 and that could be bad news for Trump – Obama won by almost seven points in 2012. But Republicans made up some ground yesterday in the early vote. In the end, boosting Republican turnout is essential if Trump is to win big in Nevada.
North Carolina shifts from Toss Up to Lean Democratic. The polls have long been tight in North Carolina, but Clinton has led in 21 of the last 23 polls listed by RealClearPolitics. Only one Republican pollster has shown Trump leading in the state since mid-September. Romney won here in 2012, but Clinton is seen as having the advantage this year, in part because of her superior ground organization. Trump isn’t giving up on North Carolina – it would be hard for him to win without its 15 electoral votes. Both Trump and Clinton are expected to appear in the state on Thursday. A number of high-profile surrogates from both sides will appear in North Carolina this week, but it’s difficult for Trump to compete with Clinton’s firepower on that front – both President Obama and Vice President Biden are headed to the state.
We’re moving Alaska from Solid Republican to Lean Republican. Alaska is a notoriously hard state to poll. What little recent polling there is doesn’t paint a clear picture for the race. Some polls show Trump with a narrowing lead and one recent Democratic poll even had Clinton up in the state. We still think Trump has a lead, but there is uncertainty about this state where support for Trump has long been weak. Alaska is a more diverse state than many realize, more than 35 percent of the state is nonwhite, most of that being the large Native American population. In October, both of Alaska's Republican U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, pulled their support for Trump and said he should step aside. Just keep in mind that no Democratic presidential candidate has won Alaska since Lyndon Johnson did so in the 1964 landslide.
If Clinton wins the states we’ve rated Solid Democrat along with the states we see as leaning in her direction she’d have 287 electoral votes. A presidential candidate needs only 270 Electoral Votes to win the presidency so Clinton currently holds a clear advantage. If Trump wins the Solid Republican states along with the states currently seen as leaning in his direction he’d come away with 174 electoral votes. The Toss-Up states, not currently in either candidate’s column, hold only another 77 electoral votes. Winning the toss-up states wouldn’t be enough for Trump, he’d have to win back one or more of the states currently leaning Democratic to reach 270.
The 2016 Scorecard map shows whether we think the state is solidly in a candidate’s column, leaning toward one candidate, or currently a toss-up state. The solid states are not currently thought to be competitive, the leaning states are still competitive but one candidate appears to have an edge, and the toss-up states are races where neither candidate has a clear advantage.