It’s become repetitive to say this election is unlike any we have ever experienced before. But it is true. This election has featured wild swings in Trump’s and Clinton’s favor but always settling with a slight Clinton edge. That still holds true today.
But some pundits and analysts have compared this election to 2012 because Mitt Romney closed strong but ultimately lost decisively. Obviously, some of these analysts and pundits expect the same thing to occur between Trump and Clinton.
But there is one key difference between the two contests that stands out from the rest. Whereas national polls gave Obama a consistent but slight edge, ditto Clinton, the state polls decisively favored Obama. The same cannot be said of Clinton.
Indeed, this election has seen quite some tipsy turvy polling at the state level (see RCP here). For example, while Clinton has maintained solid leads in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan, she has seen her leads come and go in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa and Nevada. Minus Arizona and North Carolina, Obama maintained consistent leads in every other state.
The shifting state polls suggest an unsettled electorate divided between 2 bad choices. The one advantage Clinton still enjoys (even after her national polling edge has disappeared) is that she started with such a massive advantage in the electoral college.
Right now, if all states go the way of the RCP polling average Trump would still be 5 votes short of 270. Right now, the candidates seems to be reaching to swing Wisconsin and Pennsylvania while holding the states he has surged in.
Flipping both will still be tough. As will holding swing states like Nevada and North Carolina full of minorities and college educated whites. That said, it is far from impossible.
Clinton’s edge in smaller states such as Colorado and New Hampshire has hinged on her ability to portray Trump as your crazy uncle or be seen as the voice of reason. Of late that has faded and the Trump campaign is expanding the playing field by going into Democratic Michigan as well.
Even Nate Silver admits as much (though he sees the race as Clinton’s to lose). But he also acknowledges that Romney did not surge in so many states so quickly towards the end of the contest. Interestingly enough, the Clinton camp is so confident in their victory they are campaigning in Arizona and Georgia (2 red states where polls have showed Trump gaining).
In many ways 2012 and 2016 are similar. A familiar electoral map, a Liberal vs. a Conservative. But when it comes to state polls they are 2 drastically different elections. That is good news for Donald Trump.