A flurry of new swing state polls released Wednesday bring the best news for Donald Trump in his race against Hillary Clinton that the Republican candidate for president has seen in weeks, boosting Trump’s chances in the Electoral College where less than two weeks ago, Clinton appeared to be well on her way to locking down an easy triumph which would give the Democrat the White House and make her the first woman to become president in the 240-year history of the United States.
What changed for Trump?
With the racial unrest after two highly publicized and shocking police shootings of African-American men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota — followed by the horrifying sniper slayings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, by a deranged gunman who said he wanted to kill white people — the openly race-based campaign of Donald Trump may be reaping a benefit in popularity as white voters channel their fears into support for Trump.
— Lucia Graves (@lucia_graves) July 13, 2016
Following the unrest, which was accompanied by overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations across the United States, Trump has apparently stepped up his appeals to the racial fears of white voters — even claiming twice early this week that black protesters had held “a moment of silence” to honor the Dallas cop killer Micah Johnson.
“I’ve seen moments of silence called for for this horrible human being who shot the policemen,” Trump claimed on the Fox News network on Monday, a claim that he repeated at a rally in Indiana on Tuesday.
Trump appears to have made up the claim out of whole cloth, with even one of his own top campaign officials stating that there is no evidence of any “moment of silence” for the Dallas killer, who was himself killed by police after a lengthy standoff.
Watch the full Fox News interview with Donald Trump in which he lashes out at the Black Lives Matter movement and makes his “moment of silence” claim, in the video below.
Whether due to racial factors or some other reason, Trump appeared to make gains in the key swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania in several new polls this week, as well as in Ohio.
While the Huffington Post Pollster aggregate polling average shows Hillary Clinton continuing to lead Trump in Florida whose 29 electoral votes are considered a requirement for Trump to win the presidency, two polls released this week all showed Trump with a lead, following two last week also putting Trump in front.
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The new polls put Florida into Trump’s column in the Election Graphs average, while both a new Quinnipiac poll and an NBC News/Marist College poll in Ohio showed the race there in a virtual tie. Those polls weakened Clinton’s position in Ohio, which carries 18 electoral votes.
Under the Election Graphs scenario, Trump now has a “best case scenario” of 272 electoral votes — two more than needed to win him the White House. But less than two weeks ago, Trump trailed in Florida by five points, and even in his best case, winning all of the states where Clinton now leads by fewer than five percentage points still would have lost the election.
However, even with the slew of new swing state polls, some experts said that taken together, the polling shows very little change in the race overall.
Trump surging in swing states? Not really. Avg. of 11 new swing state polls today is Clinton +4. About what we’ve seen for a while.
— Alan Abramowitz (@AlanIAbramowitz) July 13, 2016
Election Graph still sees an “expected” result of 318 electoral votes for Clinton, 48 more than the 270 needed to secure a majority, and other electoral college forecasters agreed.
Weekly electoral map. Model + Polls, 60 day average – if the election were held today. pic.twitter.com/tcQzd7dkgr
— Benchmark Politics (@benchmarkpol) July 13, 2016
However, racial unrest has swayed election before. In 1966, the first midterm congressional election since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, Republicans won massive gains in Congress — a victory attributed to “white backlash” against the new legislation granting full rights to black citizens.
If indeed Donald Trump’s gains over Hillary Clinton in some swing state polls were triggered by a current version of “white backlash,” future racial unrest could prove decisive if Trump manages to overcome Clinton’s current lead in the race, which stands at 4.9 percentage points nationally in the FiveThirtyEight polling average.
[Photos By David McNew and John Sommers II/Getty Images]