By Jim Ellis
Nov. 7, 2016 — Though the Granite State of New Hampshire possesses only four electoral votes, it can potentially end as the most critical entity in Tuesday’s presidential election, at least according to Donald Trump’s recent comments. After Hillary Clinton had been maintaining a discernible lead here since the national conventions concluded, four new polls are now projecting New Hampshire going back into the toss-up range.
If Trump is to make a final run at national victory, he must first lock down all 23 states that normally vote Republican in a presidential contest. With his standing improving in Utah and Arizona, this initial objective appears within his grasp. After securing the base, he must win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and then one more state. Therefore, his victory path is still difficult to attain.
The new American Research Group (Oct. 31-Nov. 2; 600 likely New Hampshire voters) and WBUR-MassINC study (Oct. 29-Nov. 1; 500 likely New Hampshire voters) studies provide Trump with some surprisingly good Granite State news. New Hampshire-based ARG sees a 48-43-4-1 percent Trump advantage over Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, while MassINC projects the Republican taking a 40-39-10-3 percent lead as Johnson actually touches double digits. The Boston Globe/Suffolk University data (Oct. 31-Nov. 2; 500 NH likely voters) finds the two tied at 42 percent apiece. The UMass Lowell poll (Oct. 28-Nov. 2; 695 likely New Hampshire voters) also sees a 42-42-5-2 percent tie. All of this portends a major swing in Trump’s favor.
A further New Hampshire benefit for Trump could be the state’s status as one of seven entities having no form of early voting. Since he is beginning to gain, not voting until Election Day would likely help the Republican in this particular instance.
In order to make New Hampshire count, however, every part of the scenario outlined above would have to be first fulfilled. Assuming the 23 Republican states are secure, his Florida numbers will have to rebound as the last two surveys, from Fox affiliates in Orlando and Tampa through Opinion Savvy (Nov. 1-2; 603 likely Florida voters, 55 percent of whom have already voted) and Gravis Marketing (Oct. 31; 1,995 registered Florida voters via interactive voice response system and online cell phone responders) still find Clinton leading. Opinion Savvy detects a 49-45 percent Clinton advantage, while Gravis sees an almost identical 49-46 percent split.
The new Quinnipiac University poll (Oct. 27-Nov. 1; 589 likely Ohio voters) shows Trump moving to a five-point, 46-41-5-2 percent, lead in Ohio, however. African American turnout in Cleveland and Akron is well behind its pace of 2012. Trump also sees favorable trends in Iowa, though we see no late data here.
North Carolina and Nevada are beginning to show signs of moving toward Trump, too. In the Tar Heel State, the Survey USA data (Oct. 28-31; 659 likely North Carolina voters) finds Trump up 51-44-3 percent (Stein did not qualify here), while Remington Research (Oct. 30; 1,176 likely North Carolina voters via interactive voice response system) sees a 47-45-2 percent Trump split. But, Quinnipiac University (Oct. 27-Nov. 1; 602 likely North Carolina voters) has Clinton up by a similar 47-44-3 percent division.
The Trump camp hails the latest Nevada numbers. The new CNN/ORC data (Oct. 27-Nov. 1; 790 likely Nevada voters) finds Trump topping Clinton and Johnson, 49-43-5 percent, while the local Channel 8 News in Las Vegas (Oct. 28-Nov. 1; 600 likely Nevada voters) sees a 45-45-4 percent tie. Early voting trends, however, suggest a sizable Democratic ballot return advantage in Clark County, and Hispanic early voting appears to be increasing when compared to past years. These latter signs favor Clinton.
Considering Clinton has to win just one of the discussed states above, the most logical forecast remains a close Clinton win on Tuesday night, but things are getting tighter as we enter the final weekend.