[Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind the majority of these polls are likely oversampled in favor of Democrats, i.e. they are biased towards Hillary Clinton.]
Arizona (11 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 4.0
2012 Presidential Election Result = Romney 54%, Obama 44%
Battleground Counties to watch: Maricopa
Democrats, hopeful that Hispanic voters turn out in large numbers to oppose Donald Trump, have invested a significant amount of time and resources in Arizona; as the latest average of polls show Trump leading Hillary Clinton by roughly 4%, that plan seems to have fizzled out.
With the exception of Apache (St. Johns), Coconino (Flagstaff), Pima (Tucson) and Santa Cruz Counties (Nogales), Mitt Romney carried the state in 2012 by nearly 10%. Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, is the largest county by population in the state; Romney carried it by nearly 12%.
Colorado (9 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Clinton + 2.9
Battleground Counties to watch: Arapahoe, Jefferson, Pueblo
Won by George W. Bush in 2004 and Obama in both 2008 and 2012, Democrats have touted Colorado as a state that has shifted from toss up to reliably Democratic due to its growing Hispanic population. Polls have shown Clinton’s lead shrink from double digits in September to approximately 3% in the last few weeks.
Arapahoe County, a suburban county near Denver, was once a Republican stronghold alongside nearby Jefferson County. While Obama carried both counties over Romney in 2012, registered Independents still outnumber Democrats and Republicans in both counties (Republicans outnumber Democrats in Jefferson County).
While both counties have sizable Hispanic populations (19% in Arapahoe County, 14.3% in Jefferson County), the number of Independents gives Trump the chance to negate some of the votes Clinton will receive in Denver.
Pueblo County, in southern Colorado, is a major steel-producer and has begun to tilt more Conservative in recent years. While Obama carried the county by 13%, Trump’s strong appeal to blue-collar workers gives him the ability to cut into Clinton’s base of support there.
Florida (29 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Clinton + 1.0
Battleground Counties to watch: Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Seminole, Volusia
Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has regularly voted Republican, though Obama came within 3 points of flipping it in 2008 due to high turnout among African-Americans. While Clinton is unlikely to flip Duval County due to lower levels of enthusiasm for her among African-American voters, she will attempt to keep Trump’s numbers down there to mitigate further loses for her in the more Conservative northern panhandle.
Tampa’s Hillsborough County lies along the Interstate-4 corridor linking Tampa and Orlando, and has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election dating back to 1928, with the exception of 1992. It has also voted for the winner in every statewide election since 1996. Obama bested Romney there by 7%, but recent polls show Clinton and Trump neck-and-neck.
Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida, is home to more than 500,000 Hispanic voters (more than half of them Republicans). While Obama carried the county with 62%, Romney picked up 332,602 much needed votes (though he ultimately lost the state by 1%). Support for Trump among the influential Cuban-American population will be critical to maintaining Romney’s level of support.
While it is highly unlikely Trump will win Palm Beach County, if he is able to perform better than Mitt Romney did in 2012 (41%), it would demonstrate Trump’s ability to pull in Democratic voters.
Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, has voted for the Democratic nominee in every election since 1992, except for 2004 when George W. Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. While voter registration has favored Democrats in the past, there are indications that Republicans may be gaining ground.
Suburban Seminole County, just outside Orlando, voted for Romney by nearly 7% over Obama. While the county’s Hispanic population has grown since then, Republicans hope to accumulate votes there to mitigate expected loses in Orlando proper.
Mitt Romney narrowly carried Volusia County, with its large working class white population, in 2012. The county’s sizable Hispanic population, made up primarily of people of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, give the Democrats hope of flipping the county back for Clinton.
Georgia (16 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 4.6
Battleground Counties to watch: Gwinnett
Last carried by a Democrat in 1992, Georgia is another state Democrats hope will be brought into contention due to shifting demographics. While Clinton is hopeful that driving up African-American vote totals in Clayton (Atlanta), Chatham (Savannah) and Muscogee (Columbus) Counties will hand the state to her, polls have shown Trump maintaining a solid lead in Georgia.
Gwinnett County, the second largest in the state, has voted for the Republican Presidential candidate since 1980; however, the vote margin has gradually declined over the years. The size of Trump’s margin of victory in Gwinnett County could be indicative of his level of support across the state.
Iowa (6 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 3.0
Battleground Counties to watch: Cedar, Polk, Scott
Carried by Obama in 2008 and 2012, polls have shown Iowa gradually falling out of reach for Hillary Clinton; polls have regularly shown Trump leading by over 4%.
Cedar County, a lightly populated county between Cedar Rapids and Davenport, has voted for the candidate who wins the popular vote in every election since 1992.
While a victory for Trump is unlikely in Polk County, home of the state capital Des Moines, keeping Clinton below Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 (14%) will help his effort to win the state overall.
Scott County, home to Davenport, is located in East Iowa along the Mississippi River. Though Obama won Scott County in 2012 by 14 points, Republican Governor Terry Branstad did well there during his gubernatorial campaign, and the sizable number of blue-collar voters there could provide a strong base of support for Trump.
Maine (2 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Clinton + 4.5
While polls show Clinton leading statewide by an average of 4%, that is well below Obama’s 15% margin of victory over Romney in 2012. Trump’s level of support in the northern rural counties of the state could hand him one electoral vote if he manages to win Maine’s Second Congressional District.
Maine Second Congressional District (1 electoral vote)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 0.5
Michigan (16 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Clinton + 4.0
Battleground Counties to watch: Macomb, Marquette, Oakland
Republicans have not carried Oakland County, the second most populous county in the state, in a Presidential election since 1992 (though George W. Bush came close to flipping the county twice).
Bush did manage to carry Macomb County, the state’s third most populous county located just outside Detroit, in 2004; Obama carried it twice, though his margin of victory was cut in half by Romney in 2012. The county’s large number of so-called “Reagan Democrats” gives Trump hope of improving on Romney’s 2012 numbers.
Marquette County, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has historically voted Democratic. However, the county’s overwhelmingly rural and white population puts it in play for Trump.
New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 1.6
Battleground Counties to watch: Hillsborough, Rockingham
Hillsborough County is the most populous county in the state of New Hampshire and home to both Manchester and Nashua. One of the most tightly contested counties in the country, Obama won by less than 4,000 votes in 2012, while George W. Bush carried it by about 5,000 votes in 2004. Though Republicans hold an edge over Democrats in voter registration, the majority of voters in the county are Undeclared.
Portsmouth’s Rockingham County, on the other hand, switched from supporting Obama in 2008 to Romney in 2012. While Republicans outnumber Democrats in Rockingham County, as they do in Hillsborough County as well, Undeclared voters outnumber them both.
Nevada (6 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 2.0
Battleground Counties to watch: Clark, Washoe
Clark County, the home of Las Vegas, is the state’s largest county and a Democratic stronghold. Romney lost Clark County to Obama by 14%, and Clinton needs to maintain Obama’s level of support there to offset Republican strength in the state’s rural counties.
Washoe County, in northern Nevada, is the home of Reno. While the county was once reliably Republican, it voted for Obama twice. In addition to turning out Republican voters in rural counties, Trump must do better than Romney’s 4% loss in 2012 to overcome the vote deficit in Clark County. Recent polls show Trump with a lead of approximately 6% in Washoe County.
North Carolina (15 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 1.5
Battleground Counties to watch: Forsyth, Wake
While Obama carried Forsyth County and North Carolina in 2008, his margin of victory decreased as the rest of North Carolina backed Romney in 2012. While Trump is unlikely to take Winston-Salem, or the county as a whole, he needs to perform as well as Romney did in 2012 to carry the state.
Wake County, home to Raleigh, and Mecklenburg County, home of Charlotte, are two other counties in which Trump must keep Clinton’s vote total down. Obama carried Wake County by 11% in 2012, and Mecklenburg County by 23%.
Ohio (18 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Trump + 2.8
Battleground Counties to watch: Delaware, Hamilton, Lake, Mahoning, Stark, Trumbull
Delaware County, a suburban county outside Columbus, has voted for the Republican nominee since the 1920s; Mitt Romney won 69 percent of the vote in 2012. Donald Trump did not perform well in Delaware County during the Republican primary, so the results there will be a test to see if some Republican voters decide to not vote for Trump.
Obama’s strong showing among African-American voters delivered Hamilton County, home of Cincinnati, to the Democrats for the first time since Lyndon Johnson. Clinton will likely have to replicate Obama’s level of support among African-Americans to carry Hamilton County again.
Romney carried Lake County, a suburban county outside Cleveland, by 2% in 2012, and Republicans hope to hold it again this year.
Stark County, which includes Canton, is another county narrowly carried by Romney in 2012. Trump’s support among blue-collar voters could translate to a larger-than-expected victory for Trump there.
Trump’s appeal to blue collar voters could also improve his chances in the historically Democratic areas of Mahoning County (Youngstown) and Trumbull County (Warren).
Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes)
Real Clear Politics average = Clinton + 2.4%
Battleground Counties to watch: Beaver, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Greene, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northampton, Washington, Westmoreland
Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, was narrowly carried by Obama in 2012. There are suggestions that Trump could lose some moderate Republican voters while also gaining support among white working class voters in the lower parts of the county.
Trump must stay competitive in the other major suburban Philadelphia counties (Chester, Delaware and Montgomery) as well.
He must also perform well in major blue collar counties in the western half of the state. Beaver, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland Counties were all carried by Mitt Romney by sizable margins in 2012.
While Wilkes-Barre’s Luzerne County is a traditionally Democratic stronghold (Obama carried the county with 52%), Donald Trump could benefit from the county’s large working-class population.
A similar population demographic in Lackawanna County, home of Scranton, and Northampton County, home of Bethlehem, could lead Trump to perform better than expected as well.