WASHINGTON — With nine weeks to go to election day, the U.S. presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump appears to have narrowed to a virtual dead heat.
A CNN/ORC poll Tuesday showed Trump, a brash real estate mogul running for his first elected office, edging ahead of Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, by a 45 to 43 percent margin, while a collection of polls compiled byrealclearpolitics.com gives her about a 3-percentage-point advantage.
Clinton, looking to become the country’s first female president, had surged to an eight-percentage point lead over Trump, a one-time television reality show host, in the immediate aftermath of the national Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions in July.
But the bounce in support each gained from their respective conventions seems now to have evaporated, with polling throughout the country showing that the results in state-by-state match-ups between the two contenders is often close, particularly in about 10 battleground election states where the outcome of the November 8 election is likely to be decided. The winner will replace President Barack Obama when he leaves office in January.
U.S. presidential elections are not determined by the national popular vote but rather in each of the 50 states, with each state’s influence on the outcome weighted by its population. A Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll said Tuesday that its massive poll of 74,000 registered voters over the last three weeks of August shows Clinton with an advantage in the electoral college because she is winning states with bigger populations.
The newspaper said Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is ahead of Trump by four percentage points or more in 20 states, adding up to 244 of the 270 electoral college votes she needs to become the country’s 45th president. Trump also is ahead by that margin in 20 states, but because they mostly are smaller states, his edge only adds up to 126 electoral votes.
The Post said that in the 10 remaining states, with 168 electoral votes, neither candidate has a lead of four percentage points or more.
With two other candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, included in the polling, Clinton’s margin narrows somewhat, with even fewer states showing Trump or Clinton with a four-point or more lead.
Rocky road for both candidates
The CNN poll showing Trump edging ahead seems to indicate that he had weathered a difficult August, when he for a second time shuffled his top campaign aides, feuded with a Muslim couple whose son, a U.S. military officer, was killed in fighting in Iraq more than a decade ago, and offered voters conflicting versions of how he would change U.S. immigration policies.
But at the same time, Clinton has faced new questions about her use of an unsecured, private email server during her tenure as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
U.S. investigators determined that she was «extremely careless» in her handling of classified national security material in her emails but that no criminal charges were warranted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a summary of its investigation last week that showed Clinton on numerous occasions could not recall specific circumstances in how she looked at the emails and did not recognize that the letter «C» designation meant the document was considered to be «confidential,» the lowest level of U.S. national security classifications, and instead thought it to be an alphabetical listing.
Both candidates are hitting the campaign trail again Tuesday in key election states where the outcome is uncertain, with Trump in the mid-Atlantic states of Virginia and North Carolina, and Clinton in the southeastern state of Florida. Both visited the key Midwestern state of Ohio on Monday, voicing support for working families during the country’s Labor Day holiday.
They will meet face to face September 26, the date of the first of three planned debates between them, with the other two scheduled in October.
Trump won the endorsement Tuesday of 88 retired generals and admirals, who said they believe he will rebuild the country’s military and secure its borders. In recent weeks, Clinton has also been endorsed by a large contingent of former national security officials, including some who have served under Republican presidents.