A few weeks ago, Donald Trump told a New Hampshire crowd he loves to cite the polls — when he is ahead.
"When we do badly, I don't know about polls, right? But when we're doing well, I know about polls," Trump said in Sandown, N.H., on Oct. 6. Since then, Trump has fallen from about 4 points behind Hillary Clinton nationally, to about 6 points. But his positioning in battleground states that will determine which candidate gets to 270 electoral votes has become much more precarious.
Trump is now lashing out against those polls.
He told a Florida roundtable Monday morning that he is winning the race, and tweeted similar thoughts.
Trump cites a couple of national polls, including one from International Business Daily/TIPP and another from USC/Los Angeles Times that show the race neck and neck nationally. But the preponderance of established national polls show Clinton with a consistent lead. The RealClearPolitics average currently has Clinton ahead by about 5 points.
"I think we're winning," Trump said in Boynton Beach, Fla. "We're up in Ohio. We're up in Iowa. We're doing great in North Carolina. I think we're doing great in Florida — I think we're gonna win Florida big."
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So let's look at the polls:
Iowa: The most recent Des Moines Register poll had Trump up 4 points. It was taken before Trump's recent controversies over allegations of sexual misconduct in the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood video where he bragged about groping and kissing women. Ohio: The most recent polls have the Buckeye State as a tie or with a slight Trump lead. North Carolina: Polls show a very close race, with Clinton leading within the margin of error. So not quite "great" for Trump. But not great for Clinton either. Florida: Clinton has held a consistent 3- to 4-point lead in recent polling. Not a huge lead, but also nothing to suggest Trump is going to win big there.
So what explains the disconnect?
"What they do is, they show these phony polls," Trump said. "They look at Democrats. It's heavily weighted with Democrats."
Trump cited the most recent ABC poll, which shows him trailing Clinton nationally by a staggering 12 points. That poll had a sample that was 36 percent Democrats, 27 percent Republicans and 31 percent independents. So, yes, there were many more Democrats than Republicans or independents in their poll.
But there are also more Democrats in the United States. The most recent data from the Pew Research Center show that 33 percent of Americans are registered as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans and 34 percent are independents. So the spread in the ABC poll was wider, but not enough to explain the gap.
The bigger problem for Trump is recent data showing that Democrats are more solidly behind Clinton than Republicans are behind him, regardless of how much weight each party has in a poll.
And if he was able to win the states he cited this morning — Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida — he would still be short of 270 electoral votes. Underscoring Florida's importance to Trump's game plan, he is in the midst of a three-day campaign swing through the state. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.