Heading into Wednesday's third and final presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump likely needs a great night to cut into the lead of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state has taken a commanding lead in national polls while also pulling ahead in a number of key battleground states.
The latest survey from CBS News, conducted Oct. 12-16, had Clinton up nine points, 47 percent to 38 percent, in a four-way matchup. Libertarian Gary Johnson garnered 8 percent support, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein earned 3 percent. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll conducted Oct. 10-16, meanwhile, showed Clinton up 6 points in a four-way race, while Rasmussen Reports — which has reliably leaned toward Trump compared with most other firms — showed the Democratic nominee up 1 point in a poll conducted Oct. 13-17. The Real Clear Politics average of polls showed Clinton up 6.9 percentage points.
But there is perhaps even worse news for Trump on the state level, where electoral votes are won and lost. Data-driven website FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton an about 88 percent chance of winning the election in its polls-only forecast, which is likely due in part to these recent polls. The Washington Post and SurveyMonkey released a new survey Tuesday that showed Clinton up by at least 4 points among likely voters in New Hampshire, Michigan, Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia, which has voted Republican the last five presidential elections. Those states, plus the reliably Democratic states, would total 304 electoral votes, well over the 270 threshold needed to win.
The FiveThirtyEight election forecast isn't as bullish on Clinton in Georgia, projecting an about 68 percent chance of a Trump win in the state. But that same forecast gave Clinton a nearly 76 percent chance of winning Florida and about 65 percent chance of winning Ohio. Both of those states are likely must-wins for Trump to have a conceivable path to 270 electoral votes.
One Irish bookmaker was so convinced of a Clinton victory that, even ahead of the final debate, it said it preemptively paid out more than $1 million to gamblers who had placed wagers on the former secretary of state winning the election.