posted at 5:21 pm on September 22, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Two weeks ago, CNN had Donald Trump up four points in Florida. Earlier this week, Monmouth put Hillary Clinton up five points. Suffolk’s latest poll nearly splits the difference, but the series itself shows a significant shift toward the Republican nominee since its last survey in August. The race has moved from a 48/42 Hillary lead to a 45/44 edge to Trump — thanks in part to some defections from Gary Johnson:
Republican Donald Trump has a razor-thin 1-point lead over Hillary Clinton in Florida—a statistical tie and a reversal from last month—according to a new Suffolk University poll of likely general-election voters in a state some consider the tipping point for the 2016 presidential election.
Trump (45 percent) led Clinton (44 percent) with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 3 percent, the Green Party’s Jill Stein at 1 percent, and 7 percent undecided. Six candidates for president are listed on the Florida ballot, including Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party and Roque De La Fuente of the Reform Party, neither of whom received support in the poll.
In a Suffolk University poll taken in early August, Clinton held a 4-point lead in a four-way ballot test that included Johnson and Stein and led Trump by 6 points in a head-to-head matchup.
“Hillary Clinton’s support remains in the mid-forties, but she has lost her August lead because Donald Trump is aggregating previous undecided and Johnson supporters in his camp,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “One of the more striking findings is that Florida voters don’t perceive Hillary Clinton as easy a winner as they did in August.”
Regardless of which poll comes closest to the current state of the race in the Sunshine State, it’s clearly getting tighter. The space between the two candidates in the RealClearPolitics average has disappeared entirely since Trump’s August swoon:
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gives the edge to Trump in betting odds as well, with a 52.9% chance of winning Florida and its 29 Electoral College votes. That analysis did not include this Suffolk poll at the time this post was written. It’s difficult to see how its inclusion would make those odds worse for Trump. The site gives Suffolk a B+ rating, but one with an institutional edge that normally favors Democrats. That’s not good news for Hillary.
It’s also not good news for Patrick Murphy. The August poll from Suffolk gave Rubio a 13-point lead, which comes down in this iteration … but not by much. Rubio still leads by nine points, 43/34. That’s not far off from the current RCP average (in which this poll is included) of 46.4/40.3 Rubio. Murphy has only led in two polls — both in June, both from PPP, and both by only a point, and both before Rubio actually got into the race. Ever since, it’s been an unbroken line of Rubio polling leads, which is why the DSCC has decided to bail on Florida for Missouri and North Carolina.
There are a couple of odd notes from the internals. Trump beats Hillary among millennials 45/41 even with Johnson in the race (who gets 8%). While Hillary has had trouble getting millennials on board — which is why she’s doing Between the Ferns while getting treated for pneumonia — but this would portend a disaster that goes well beyond the one-point lead Trump gets in this survey. Barack Obama got 66% of the 18-29YO vote in 2012 on his way to a one-point victory in Florida. Trump actually wins the gender battle by +5 thanks to a 15-point lead among men, and he also manages to stay within 13 points in south Florida, 39/52. All of this could be possible, but seems unlikely within the context of this virtual tie.