Battleground States: Can Clinton Surprise Trump In The South?

The last week has been a nightmare for Donald Trump and the Republicans, which has seen Democrats turning normally Republican southern states into battleground states. A massive drop in the polls for Trump and the looming threat to down-ticket candidates has the Republican Party leadership scrambling for an answer. In light of the poll numbers coming out of traditionally Republican states in the South, they have good reason to be worried. Current polls show Clinton not only ahead in places like Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida – states Democrats sometimes win – but also ahead or tied in Georgia.

Some current polls show Trump running anywhere from 9 to 15 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton nationwide. Naturally, these numbers are even higher in traditionally Democrat-leaning states like California, but lower in states like South Carolina, which historically favors Republican candidates.

But even in some Southern states, Hillary Clinton has now taken a slight lead. This disastrous situation for the Republicans came about because of the actions of their chosen candidate. Many Republicans now seem to be having a serious case of buyer’s remorse as they see previously secure states turning into a battleground.

Battleground states are usually ones like Ohio or Virginia that might go either way in a general election. But this year the Democrats are expanding the concept of the battleground state thanks to Trump’s never-ending missteps.

Khizr Khan speaks at the Democratic National Convention.
Khizr Khan speaks at the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In a matter of days, Trump has sided with the Russians against an American candidate, snubbed the highest-ranking members of the Republican Party, insulted a deceased American soldier – and his family – and bragged about receiving a Purple Heart without earning it.

Trump has also made highly negative and offensive comments about Hispanics, Muslims, the disabled and women. This has reduced the demographic groups that will vote for him without Clinton lifting a finger.

For decades now, the South has been almost solidly Republican. But current polls show there is a reasonable chance Clinton could win Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and maybe even one or two more states that would never normally be considered battleground possibilities. But this is far from being a normal election.

Hillary Clinton speaks in Tampa, Florida.
Hillary Clinton speaks in Tampa, Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

One factor that is helping Clinton in southern states like Florida and Texas is Trump’s total alienation of the Hispanic vote. Both of these states have high Hispanic populations and the most recent numbers make it clear that over 80 percent of Hispanics nationwide will be voting for Clinton.

One battleground state that often goes for Democrats is Virginia. And this year seems to be no exception, with Clinton currently holding a 49 to 37 percent lead there, according to CBS News.

While North Carolina tends to vote Republican, it did make an exception with Obama in 2008. But at this moment, Clinton holds a slight lead over Donald Trump, making North Carolina into a battleground state as well.

As reported by USA Today, Hillary Clinton now also has a substantial lead in Florida as well. Right now, she is leading Trump in Florida by 48 to 42 percent. Statistically speaking, it’s virtually impossible for a Republican to win the White House without winning Florida.

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Surprisingly, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the normally red state of Georgia also seems to be in play, with Clinton and Trump tied. The last time that a Democratic presidential candidate won in the state of Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992. The Clinton popularity with African-American voters seems likely to help Hillary this time as well.

Although it sounds insane, there are even rumblings that Texas – with its huge Hispanic population – might not be quite as secure as the Republican Party would like to think. Jimmy Carter in 1976 was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win in Texas. But the demographics in Texas have been shifting in recent years and it may only be a matter of time before Texas turns blue.

All of the above might have been completely different if Hillary Clinton were facing any other candidate this year, but she isn’t. The rise of the boisterous and self-defeating Donald Trump to the top of the Republican ticket has provided Democrats with a priceless opportunity to not only win the election, but to change the political landscape throughout the southern states.

[Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images]