There are now less than four week to go until Americans go to the polls to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as their next president. However, as we get closer to the 8th of November, we’ve looked at the 2012 election to see how the candidates compare and what we found may surprise you.
Clinton is polling higher than Obama did in key battleground states, whilst Trump is polling way below the level that Mitt Romney was during the same time in 2012.
Now depending on whom you are rooting for may impact how you see this. I’m not favouring one candidate over another, but as a data journalist, looking at the polling numbers the evidence is clear. Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over her Republican counterpart, whilst a number of polls put her ahead of where President Obama was in 2012.
However, for Donald Trump the polls are not looking good. A number of key polls have put him behind Mitt Romney at the same stage in the campaign. Now, it’s totally down to a subjective look at the situation, but many agree that the 2012 election was a much harder election to predict than 2008. So what does this mean for 2016?
Well the answer is, I don’t know and I’m going to be winging it for the rest of the article. Whilst I’ll be looking at past polling numbers to draw conclusions you only have to look at the UK General Election last year and the EU referendum this year to know that polls are not the be all and end all.
The truth is you really won’t have a clue until around 11pm on the 8th of November when the first exit polls come in.
To Hillary Clinton the next four weeks look much like a drive from Birmingham to London. It’s relatively easy, the infrastructure is there to allow her to continue to move forward, but what she risks, like many of our readers will know, is a long, drawn-out and lethargic journey where there are a number of points where the journey could suddenly become a lot harder.
Yes, Trump’s ‘Pussy grabber’ comments might give her a boost, but deep down you have to remember that Trump himself said earlier in the year, “I could shoot somebody and not lose votes.” You can argue the morality of it all over a cup of coffee, but the truth is there, given a few days and something else will come up.
But, going back in time and it is clear that you would not be mistaken for thinking history is repeating itself.
The democrats are polling better than the republicans. Hillary Clinton is polling better than President Obama was in 2012 when against Governor Mitt Romney. However, she is polling worse than he was in 2008 when he faced against John McCain.
As you can see above, for Clinton, the only states where she is polling worse than Trump is in Iowa (-3.7) and Ohio (-0.7) but will these be of a concern to her? Probably not. These are Republican states that never go blue.
In most other ‘key battleground states’ (States that are not red or blue) she is polling better than Obama did and on average, is beating Trump, which is ultimately all that matters.
Obama held a 0.2 point lead in Colorado over Romney in 2012, Clinton is holding a 7.3 point lead over Trump. Even in states such as New Hampshire, in which Clinton is polling behind Obama (Clinton is 5.0 ahead of Trump, Obama was 6.0 points ahead of Romney) she is still beating her Republican counterpart.
The situation is much the same in the Republican camp, albeit in a different capacity. Trump is polling behind Mitt Romney.
Post the second presidential debate, the best poll for Trump (That was not done on Twitter and instead by a national polling group) was by NBC News/Wall had him nine points behind Clinton. Not somewhere you want to be with the polls opening in less than a month.
Another survey by McClatchy/Marist had him down by 15 points. Whatever way you look at it, this is not somewhere you want to be. Especially when you consider at the same point in 2012, Mitt Romney was polling much higher than Trump was (And a lot closer to Obama, within 2 to 3 points).
To put it in perspective, the worst poll back in 2012 had Romney down 13 points on Obama, with 40 percent of the predicted vote. Only in one major poll this week has Trump got over 40%.
Just look at the chart below. Obama polled the highest, closely followed by Clinton. Arguably, Romney was in a strong third place and in theory would provide a much stronger challenge to Clinton then Trump would, who is polling at a very distance fourth place.
Only on the 8th of November will we know if the trend will continue or if, much like our recent elections and votes, the final results is much different to what we predicted.