Clinton keeps narrow advantage in battleground states, leads in Pennsylvania and North Carolina

William JordanUS Elections Editor
September 04, 2016, 9:28 AM GMT+0

The latest wave of the YouGov/CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker polled likely voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as a sample of 13 Battleground states

As the election reaches its final stages Democrat Hillary Clinton holds an eight-point lead in Pennsylvania, a state that could prove essential for Republican Donald Trump’s efforts to reach 270 electoral votes. In North Carolina, however, the two presidential rivals are separated by only four points, and a survey of 13 battleground states as a group also finds a tighter race.

In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton garners 45% while Trump has 37% support. Third-party candidates remain mired in the single digits – Libertarian Gary Johnson at 6% and the Green Party's Jill Stein at 2% – with another 6% undecided. While Trump has a narrow seven-point lead among Pennsylvania whites, Clinton is ahead among African Americans by 86-3. Clinton also wins a larger share of Democrats (83%) than Trump manages with Republicans (75%).

Clinton’s larger leads in battleground states like Virginia and Colorado have suggested Pennsylvania, along with Ohio and Florida, might provide Trump with a viable route to 270 electoral votes. However, Clinton's 8-point lead in the Keystone State indicates it might not be a realistic target for the Trump campaign unless the national race tightens. This is the first time the YouGov/CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker has polled likely voters in Pennsylvania on the general election.

North Carolina also shows a closer race, with Hillary Clinton at 46% and Donald Trump at 42%. Johnson garners only 4% support in North Carolina, Stein 2%. YouGov last polled likely voters in North Carolina in June, when Clinton led by two points, 44% to 42%.

While losing North Carolina could prove fatal for Donald Trump’s chances, it is likely to be more of a bonus for Clinton. Barack Obama won in the Tar Heel State in 2008 but lost in 2012, and in both elections he won over 300 electoral votes.

Yet a survey across 13 battleground states suggests the race may still be up for grabs. Among likely voters Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by only two points, 42% to 40%. 7% go for Gary Johnson and again 2% for Jill Stein. The states included in the poll are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Following the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by 43% to 41% among a smaller list of 11 states (not including Arizona and Georgia).

Senate races

YouGov also polled on competitive Senate races in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, both involving Republican incumbents.

In Pennsylvania, Democrat Kathy McGinty is tied with Sen. Pat Toomey at 39% among likely voters. Fully 20% remain undecided. Worrying for Toomey, he earns only 1% support among African-Americans in the state, against McGinty's 69%, while 30% are still in the undecided column.

In North Carolina, Democrat Deborah Ross has 41% support, giving her a nominal one-point lead over Sen. Richard Burr who is at 40%, with 17% undecided. Ross has a narrow lead among women and 71-point lead among African-Americans in the state.

In both cases the Republican candidates run ahead of Donald Trump, at least in terms of the margins. 72% of likely voters in Pennsylvania say Toomey is a “different kind of Republican” from Donald Trump, while 66% in North Carolina say the same for Burr.

Interviews were conducted August 30-September 2 2016 for the CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker. A detailed description of the methodology used to carry out the surveys can be found here. An initial version of this article listed 11 states in the multi-state survey. The correct number is 13 for the latest wave.

See additional questions and demographic breakdowns for Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and the 13-state Battleground survey.