Why you shouldn’t read too much into polls which show Trump in the lead.

Last week new polling suggested that Donald Trump had moved ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House. Cue hysteria about the scary prospect of a Trump presidency.

However, people would do well not to set such store by this type of nationwide polling. Because, it does not tell the whole story. For this is an election which will be won and lost in the battleground (or bellwether) states.

Realistically, there are only a few states which are genuinely in play during a Presidential election, with the electoral college system meaning that a candidate can win the presidency despite losing the popular vote. We saw this with Bush v. Gore in 2000. However, it must be noted that with Trump as the Republican nominee, there are potentially more states in play in 2016 than has been the case in recent Presidential election.

The general consensus is that there are twelve competitive states in a normal presidential election. These are: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, and North Carolina.

If we look at the average polling data from these states, as provided by RealClearPolitics, we can see that the picture is very different to what the national polling suggests.

Battleground State Polling:

Polling averages in battleground states. 

As you can see from the table above, Clinton has the edge in almost all of the battleground states. In fact, of the twelve, Iowa is the only one which Trump can feel confident of winning at this stage.

If the polling average of the battleground states is calculated then it comes to an advantage of 3.8% for Hillary Clinton. This is much more reliable indicator of how this election is panning out, and suggests that despite polling to the contrary, Clinton is well on her way to securing the Presidency.

So calm down Clinton fans, the polling which shows Trump is the lead is misleading. The battleground states is where this election (like most others before it) will be won, and in these states Hillary Clinton is looking strong and remains on course for victory.


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