Hillary Clinton Makes Gains in North Carolina, in Dead Heat With Donald Trump in Florida
New polls give sense of cushion the Democratic candidate could use to absorb any fallout from FBI review
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event with his employees on Oct. 25 at his Trump National Doral golf club in Miami. PHOTO: REUTERS
Hillary Clinton is in a dead heat with Donald Trump in Florida and holds a six-point lead in North Carolina, according to new polls that give a sense of the cushion Mrs. Clinton could use to absorb any fallout from a Federal Bureau of Investigation review of Clinton-related emails.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist surveys, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, found Mrs. Clinton leading by a single percentage point in Florida, 45% to Mr. Trump’s 44%. That margin was narrower than the three-point lead she held a month ago.
In North Carolina, the Democratic presidential candidate’s lead of 47% to 41% had grown from a four-point advantage earlier this month.
The FBI said Friday it is reviewing new evidence related to Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. That investigation had been closed during the summer without a recommendation of charges against Mrs. Clinton or her aides.
The new surveys suggest Mrs. Clinton has more political maneuvering room in North Carolina than in Florida. If Mr. Trump lost either state, he would have few options for gathering the required 270 Electoral College votes.
The FBI announcement was the latest of many surprising developments to roil the presidential race in its closing weeks. The contest tightened significantly in mid-September, with Mr. Trump trailing by only a single percentage point in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, before widening amid the presidential debates, accusations against Mr. Trump of unwelcome sexual advances to women and disclosures about Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle from emails released by WikiLeaks and other groups. Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump have denied wrongdoing.
The polls show that neither candidate has room for missteps in Florida, the nation’s largest battleground state with 29 electoral votes. “For Trump, Florida is a must-win state, and right now it could go either way,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
“The Clinton camp has been banking on North Carolina as a crucial state in its firewall…and she seems well-positioned to carry the state,” he said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama embrace before they address the crowd on Oct. 27 at a campaign stop in Winston-Salem, N.C.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE
Mrs. Clinton’s support has remained static in Florida while Mr. Trump’s has inched up since the previous poll in early October. Both candidates have strong support from their own party bases, but independent voters have swung to Mr. Trump, favoring him now by a margin of 41% to 36%.
In the previous Journal/NBC/Marist poll, Florida independents had favored Mrs. Clinton, 42% to 33%.
Racial divisions remain key in Florida’s diverse electorate, with Mr. Trump dominating among white voters and Mrs. Clinton among African-Americans and Hispanics.
However, Mr. Trump has gained among Hispanics. They now favor Mrs. Clinton by a margin of 56% to 34%—a big advantage for her, but 14 points narrower than in the prior poll, when her edge was 61% to 25%.
North Carolina has become one of the Democrats’ best shots at winning a state that Republican Mitt Romney carried in 2012. Mrs. Clinton campaigned there with first lady Michelle Obama last week.
Unlike in Florida, independent voters in North Carolina are moving toward Mrs. Clinton. Those voters now favor her by a margin of 41% to 35%. Earlier this month, the poll found the two candidates evenly splitting independents.
In another difference between the two states, white voters with four-year college degrees favor Mrs. Clinton by a 10-point margin in North Carolina. In Florida, Mr. Trump is winning college-educated whites by 2 percentage points.
The two states are also home to competitive Senate races, which will help to determine which party controls the upper house. In Florida, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has opened a lead, 51% to 43%, over Democratic rival Patrick Murphy, up from a two-point edge in the previous Florida poll.
In North Carolina, GOP Sen. Richard Burr is tied with DemocratDeborah Ross at 48% each.
Both Republican Senate candidates are more popular than Mr. Trump, running seven points ahead of him in their respective states.
The Journal/NBC News/Marist surveys were conducted on Oct. 25-26 and included 779 likely voters in Florida and 780 likely voters in North Carolina. The margin of error for both samples is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.