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With Virginia now tied, Trump is rapidly closing battleground gap

The Ref's battleground index includes Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona and New Hampshire. Those states were included because Trump trailed by four points or less in all of those states, so they are real battlegrounds. Now another state has dropped into that margin, Virginia.

The shift in Virgina seems rather stunning. Only a few days ago, most pundits, including conservative ones, had written the state off. With the last two polls showing a virtual tie, that analysis is out the window. Pennsylvania is also closing, but still sits at a 6.0 point margin for Hillary, so for now, it will remain out of the index.

In Virginia, three of the polls in the RCP average are simply too old, containing no data from the last three weeks. Any data that old in a quickly developing race like this one is simply irrelevant. Taking only data from within the last three weeks, the polling average shows Clinton up only by 1.5 points. An Emerson poll has Clinton up 1 and a Hampton University poll has her up by 2. Emerson receives a B rating from 538, but it does show a slight Republican bias over time. Hampton University also receives a B, but has no bias over time and a 100% race calling percentage. These are solid polls and worth considering.

The margins in the other battlegrounds follow. Trump leads in Iowa by 0.8 points and Arizona by 2.5 points. Trump trails in Ohio (-3.8), Florida (-2.7), North Carolina (-0.5), Nevada (2.3), Wisconsin (4.0) and Virginia (1.5). A poll in Wisconsin from June was excluded because the data is too old. Averaging the states where Trump is behind shows us that Trump is trailing by 2.5 points.

While the overall index is remaining same, +2.5 points for Clinton, Trump has gained flexibility. Trump no longer needs to win states that often go to Democrats. He can now afford to lose Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, where he is less likely to win by historical standards. He will need to win the states Republicans have won recently, specifically Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada and Arizona, where he trails only by 2.1 points. He can also afford to lose Nevada where he's currently trailing if he wins Iowa, where he's currently leading.

This shift is significant because Trump can pull into the lead just by bringing Republicans into his tent. He has not been achieving the ninety percent level of Republican support that a GOP candidate typically receives. He has been closer to seventy-five percent. If he can just get a little closer to ninety percent support, he should claim these states that often go GOP. Some of the GOP will naturally come home as we approach election day.

More Analysis from the Ref

Mistake? CBS Pollster Confuses its Registered Voter Poll with a Likely Voter Poll

Trump is Closer Than You Think

Donald Trump is Not Trailing in this Election, and Actually May be Ahead

The Ref's Battleground Index

Clinton +2.5 Points in All Ref Battlegrounds

Clinton +2.1 Points in Traditional GOP States

Trump can now focus on bringing Republicans home, an easier task

Glenn Beck and the NeverTrumpers are starting to lose their grip. One can easily imagine that we are approaching a tipping point. Once it becomes clear that Trump really can win fairly easily, the argument that Trump will definitely lose so we must abandon him, the primary argument of NeverTrumpers, becomes hollow and ineffectual.

At that point the veneer of concern for the greater good of the GOP disappears and the real motivations of the NeverTrumpers will become manifest. Most of the Trump resistance will dissolve because of a refusal to openly embrace their actual political motivations. Among others, these motivations include blind adherence to globalization, naked political ambition, and sadly, simple bruised egos.

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