Battleground fade: Clinton extends leads in CO, NC, VA in Marist polls

A bad August for Republicans has gotten worse in precisely the worst possible states, according to new battleground polls from Marist. Hillary Clinton now leads in two key swing states by double digits, and Donald Trump gets less than 40% in all four.

Clinton has made her largest gains in Colorado where Clinton, 46%, leads Trump, 32%, by 14 points among registered voters statewide.  This is up from the 8 point lead Clinton, 43%, had over Trump, 35%, in the July NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll released prior to the Republican and Democratic conventions.  Looking at the four-way contest including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton is still well-positioned to take Colorado’s 9 electoral votes.  Clinton has the support of 41% of voters compared with 29% for Trump, 15% for Johnson, and 6% for Stein.  Last month, Clinton, 39%, had a 6 point advantage over Trump, 33%, in the four-way contest.  The support for Johnson and Stein is little changed from that time when Johnson garnered 13%, and Stein had 4%. …

In North Carolina where 15 electoral votes hang in the balance, Clinton, 48%, is ahead of Trump, 39%, by 9 points among the statewide electorate.  This is up slightly from 6 points last month when Clinton received 44% to 38% for Trump.  When Johnson and Stein are included, Clinton receives 45% to 36% for Trump.  Johnson has 9%, and Stein receives 2%.  The four candidates garnered similar support in the previous NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll.

In the hunt for Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, Clinton, 46%, outdistances Trump, 33%, among registered voters statewide.  Since adding Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to the ticket, Clinton has increased her lead from 9 points in last month’s survey to 13 points now.  At that time, Clinton had 44% to 35% for Trump.  In the four-way contest, Clinton, 43%, is ahead of Trump, 31%, by a similar 12 points.  12% are behind Johnson, and 5% back Stein.  In July, Clinton, 41%, had a 7 point advantage over Trump, 34%.  Johnson and Stein garnered, 10% and 2%, respectively.

The only good news comes in Florida, but it’s not much more hopeful. Trump has actually narrowed the race slightly from 44/37 to 44/39, but it’s a change within the margin of error, and he’s still below 40%.  In fact, Trump is slightly overperforming his favorability in Florida, which is a disastrous 30/64, although Hillary’s only performing marginally better at 41/52. Trump’s unfavorables exceed 60% in all four states:


Needless to say, there isn’t much upside in these numbers. Hillary’s under water in all four states too, but her numbers have ticked up slightly in each (Colorado is essentially unchanged), while Trump has remained about where he was at before the convention in all four. The calculus behind Hillary’s bump in these states doesn’t appear to be from a dramatic re-evaluation of her likability, but probably more from people making a choice that she’s the lesser of two lessers.

One interesting data point does emerge from these polls. The Washington Post made a splash today with their polling in Virginia, claiming that veterans and active-duty military have broken toward Hillary in a big way:

Virginia’s large military and gun-owning populations mark one opportunity for Republicans to grow their appeal, although this has not materialized for Trump. Current and former military members lean toward Clinton by eight points after splitting evenly between Obama and Romney in 2012. Trump leads by 16 points among the half of Virginia voters whose households own a gun, but Clinton leads by 48 points among all other voters.

Marist’s Virginia poll shows just the opposite, at least with veterans. Trump actually leads in this demo by 20 points in the binary race (50/30) and by 10 in the four-way race (42/32). Trump also has a 13-point lead among vets in Colorado (43/30), a 20-point lead in Florida (53/33), but just a three-point lead in North Carolina (41/38). Whatever issues Trump has, it’s not with veterans.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance for Republicans to compete for these states. They represent 63 Electoral College votes, which is why I featured them in my book Going Red. If Hillary wins them, then Trump has to win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire to keep her from getting to 270 in the Electoral College — and Trump’s not winning in any of those states, either. We’re looking at a 329-209 result, and that assumes that Trump can hold Missouri, Georgia, and Arizona.

It’s still early enough to see a momentum shift, but Election Day is getting closer, and Trump’s running out of time.