Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the key battleground states of Florida and Pennsylvania, including by double digits in the Keystone State due to her strength in Philadelphia and its suburbs, according to two brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls.
In Florida, Clinton is ahead of Trump by three points among likely voters, 45 percent to 42 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error. Libertarian Gary Johnson gets 5 percent, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein gets three percent.
In a head-to-head matchup in the Sunshine State, Clinton holds a two-point edge over Trump among likely voters, 46 percent to 44 percent. The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of Florida was conducted Oct. 3-5 – well before Hurricane Matthew hit the state.
In Pennsylvania, Clinton’s lead over Trump is 12 points among likely voters, 49 percent to 37 percent, with Johnson at 6 percent and Stein at 4 percent. Her advantage is an identical 12 points in a two-way contest, 51 percent to 39 percent.
Both polls were conducted before Friday's bombshell release of audio of Trump speaking in 2005 about groping and kissing women.
It would be virtually impossible for Trump to win the White House if he loses both states, especially Florida.
“In terms of pathways to 270 [electoral votes], it’s hard to see how Trump can win the White House without carrying this state,” says Lee Miringoff, director of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion.
Examining the racial, geographical and educational divide
In both states, Clinton’s lead is due to her performance with minorities, whites with college degrees and urban voters.
In Florida, Clinton runs ahead of Trump in a two-way contest among African Americans (86 percent to 6 percent), Latinos (63 percent to 27 percent), likely voters ages 18-29 (63 percent to 31 percent) and women (51 percent to 41 percent).
Trump, meanwhile, leads among men (48 percent to 41 percent) and whites (55 percent to 36 percent). But there is an important difference here: Trump is ahead among whites without a college degree by a 62 percent-to-29 percent margin.
Yet among whites with a college degree, Trump is up by only four points, 48 percent to 44 percent.
Geographically, Trump holds the advantage in Florida’s Panhandle (52 percent to 42 percent) and the Tampa area (49 percent to 39 percent), while Clinton is ahead in the Miami area (57 percent to 34 percent) and Orlando (50 percent to 39 percent).
In Pennsylvania, Clinton has equally large leads among African American likely voters (88 percent to 6 percent) and those ages 18-29 (54 percent to 37 percent. But she holds a nearly 2-to-1 advantage among whites with a college degree (58 percent to 32 percent).
In Philadelphia, Clinton leads Trump by a whopping 74 percent-to-21 percent margin, and her advantage is almost as big in the Philadelphia suburbs, 64 percent to 28 percent.
Trump, by contrast, holds the edge in the western part of the state (45 percent to 42 percent) and in the Northeast (49 percent to 39 percent).
Rubio leads Florida Senate race, Toomey trails in Pennsylvania
Both Florida and Pennsylvania also feature important Senate contests.
In Florida, incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leads Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by two points among likely voters, 48 percent to 46 percent.
And in Pennsylvania, incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Toomey trails Democratic challenger Katie McGinty by four points – McGinty gets 48 percent among likely voters, while Toomey gets 44 percent.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of Florida was conducted Oct. 3-5 among 979 registered voters (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points) and 700 likely voters (plus-minus 3.7 percentage points).
The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of Pennsylvania was conducted Oct. 3-6 among 971 registered voters (plus-minus 3.1 percentage points) and 709 likely voters (plus-minus 3.7 percentage points).