Further shifting the volatile 2016 race, the latest North Carolina polls have moved the state firmly into the battleground column.
UPDATE: On the day before the election, two new polls were released for North Carolina. One, from NYTimes/Siena, predicts a tie. Another, from Quinnipiac, shows a 3 percentage-point advantage for Clinton.
Once considered to be leaning Democrat, North Carolina’s most recent polls are now tilted in favor of Donald Trump. The lead is, however, slight. Of the four surveys aggregated by Real Clear Politics, he holds an average lead of just 1.6 percentage points.
One of the polls with the biggest advantage for Trump in North Carolina was conducted by the Trafalgar Group, which leans Republican and has a FiveThirtyEight grade of C. In that prediction, he comes out ahead of Clinton by five percentage points. Of the recent data, it has the largest sample size — 1,150 likely voters — and the lowest margin of error.
Clinton supporters can find solace in the two other polls, both of which indicate a slight lead for the Democratic candidate in North Carolina. Unfortunately, her win is not as decisive in either of the surveys as it is in those that benefit Trump. Quinnipiac predicts a two percentage-point boost for Clinton, while CBS News/YouGov calls three percentage points. Neither advantage is greater than either poll’s margin of error. Both have a respectable accuracy rating, with an A- and a B respectively from FiveThirtyEight.
Although North Carolina polls do little to reveal the results of Tuesday’s elections, one trend that Clinton voters may find disturbing is a decline in the number of Democrats in the state who participated in early voting compared to 2012, reported Politico. Alternatively, GOP levels stayed relatively stable, which bodes well for Trump given that Republicans tend to wait to vote until Election Day.
Polls aside, North Carolina has been especially contentious in the past week as it was the epicenter for the debate over voting laws. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs ordered counties that had purged names from their voter registries in the past 90 days to re-instate them. The citizens had been removed at the request of voter fraud activists, who challenged more than 4,500 registrations, reported CNN. Critics said that the action was a tactic to target African-American voters, one of Clinton’s strongholds.
Many North Carolina voters were cut because their continued residency was called into question. Biggs called this process “antiquated” and said she was disturbed that batches of hundreds of such “undeliverable” letters would show up to local election authorities at the same time. Such a concentrated effort to remove voters so close to the election violates federal law, she said.
“Voter enfranchisement cannot be sacrificed when citizens through no fault of their own have been removed from the voter rolls. Moreover, electoral integrity is enhanced, not diminished, when all citizens who are eligible to vote are allowed to exercise that right free from interference and burden unnecessarily imposed by others.”
Nationally in the electoral college, Clinton is currently holding a slight lead in most comparisons, but she could be unseated if Trump manages to pick up all of the swing states like North Carolina — as well as a few others where her lead is less than commanding. Of these battlegrounds, Florida polls are currently the most closely watched as the state holds 29 electoral votes; yet even a relatively small state like Nevada could potentially influence the outcome of the election.
In the national popular vote, the race appears to be closer than ever. The largest poll — with a massive sample size of 5,360 — shows a 50-50 dead heat. The next largest poll, from the L.A. Times, shows a four percentage point Trump victory — though this is within the 4.5 percentage point margin of error. On average in the seven polls aggregated by Real Clear Politics, Clinton was ahead by 1.6 percentage points.
Do you think the latest North Carolina polls are pointing toward a Clinton or a Trump 2016 victory?
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]