Trump must now win Florida

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Florida has a 19 percent chance of providing the decisive vote in the Electoral College according to our polls-only forecast. It?s the most likely ?tipping-point state,? in FiveThirtyEight parlance. That?s up from 16 percent just two weeks ago. There?s only one other state with a better than 10 percent chance of casting the decisive electoral vote: Pennsylvania, at 12 percent.

Florida tends to be a crucial battleground state in presidential elections (more on this in a moment), but it?s become even more pivotal in recent weeks in the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton has improved her position nationally and in Florida, but she?s made a bit more progress in the Sunshine State, moving it closer to the national average. Clinton leads by about 3 percentage points nationally and by about 1 point in Florida. That?s made it more plausible that Clinton could hold onto Florida while losing some light-blue states.

Florida has two basic things going for it that make it so pivotal. The first, as I mentioned, is how closely the state mirrors the national vote. It?s about 2 or 3 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the country at the moment. Nevada and Wisconsin are about as equally close to the national margin, and the only states closer are Colorado (the current tipping-point state according to our forecasts), New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Considering that the election is a little more than a month away and the inherent error in any forecast, it?s possible that the vote margin in Florida ends up as close or closer as in these other states.

The other factor that makes Florida important is its large population. None of the states listed in the previous paragraph besides Florida has more than 20 electoral votes. Florida has 29. It?s possible, therefore, for a candidate to lose smaller swing states and make up for those losses by winning in Florida.

No single state guarantees victory. The notion of a ?must-win? state tends to be overplayed ? instead, the states tend to move in concert, and the winner of the national popular vote almost always wins in the Electoral College. But Florida is about as close to an all-important state as we?re likely to see.

Seems to me that the US voters like the idea of Trump’s messages as filtered through the media, but when they are faced with him close up, they have a reality check.

 

Harry Enton, 538

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