What The Latest Polls and Electoral Maps Are Telling Us

Election day is two days away. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be barnstorming through a bunch of states, trying to get voters out in the last hours to vote for them and then on Tuesday the waiting begins. Polls begin closing on the east coast at 7 pm and the results will start to roll in.

There will likely be one last batch of polls released tomorrow (Caleb has the latest rundown on national polls), but there is a lot out there to digest already. By all indications, despite the tightening of the race, Donald Trump has an extremely narrow path to 270 electoral votes and it requires flipping states Democrats won in 2008 and 2012.

The latest RCP electoral college map shows the following (click for full size):


In looking at the toss-up states, it is likely Hillary wins the following: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

And that’s it. Game over. That would put Hillary at 272 electoral votes. Trump could win Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire and the entire state of Maine and it wouldn’t be enough. That is the best case scenario for Trump at this point (on a loss). Trump has to flip Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania or a combination of Colorado and Nevada or New Mexico. The latter is very unlikely to happen.

As for the national polling, there is only one poll – the LA Times tracking poll that shows Trump with a lead outside the margin of error. All other polls are showing a dead heat or Clinton with a decent lead.

This is where it gets tricky. In 2012, the final polls before election day showed the race as a dead heat. Of the seven national polls taken the weekend before the election, six of those polls were ties (three actual ties, two with Romney up 1 and one with Obama up 1). The other poll ABC News/WaPo had Obama up 3 points. Obama wound up winning by 4 points.

The difference was early voting. It is hard to tell what kind of effect it will have on the final numbers. In 2012 in Nevada, the RCP average for Obama was +2.8 over Romney. Obama went on to win Nevada by 7 points, showing just how much impact early voting had on the poll numbers.

While experts can make educated guesses on how a candidate is doing based on early voting and absentee ballots, it’s still a guess because the information is based only on party affiliation, not actual votes.

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