RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And just to make sure you know, here at NPR, we are committed to not just throwing random polls at you all election season. But there have been a bunch of polls since the political conventions last month. And today, we have NPR's political editor Domenico Montanaro with us to look at the battleground states map and see whether the race is any different now than it was a month ago.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So there are a dozen battleground states. Well - see, I don't know why that surprises me. I didn't know there were quite so many up for grabs. So - but what jumps out to you when you look at how they're lining up?
MONTANARO: Well - and first, we should say that our battleground map is not just based on polls, although polls are a part of it, but demographics, history, voter trends and our on-the-ground reporting are really what drives a lot of this. And let me just say with - what I see as the biggest change so far in the past month or three weeks - Donald Trump's very difficult three weeks have led to Hillary Clinton solidifying her lead, especially in the states. You know, national polls are nice. They help tell you a little bit about what's happening with the mood of the country, but the states are where the race is really won or lost.
And, you know, the biggest change, for example, I would point to is Pennsylvania. A month ago we had Pennsylvania in toss-up, a state that could go Democrat as easily as it could go Republican. Now that state has moved much more toward Hillary Clinton, so I've listed it on our map as leaning Democrat. And that's a real problem for Donald Trump because Pennsylvania is really a key state for him to win for his chances at the presidency. It's very difficult to find a path for him without winning Pennsylvania.
MONTAGNE: Well, one of the states that you have there is Georgia.
MONTANARO: (Laughter) Yeah.
MONTAGNE: It's a toss-up state now, although it's been Republican - right? - for years.
MONTANARO: Right. And, you know, you might put a finger on the scale for Republicans in Georgia because of the voting trends. But what we've seen in the polling so far is that both candidates are within striking distance of each other, if not some showing Hillary Clinton leading. So Georgia has gone Republican in recent elections. Republicans have won it in every presidential election since 1992. And before that, Jimmy Carter won it in 1976 and 1980.
People think of Georgia as this conservative Southern state. But we should note, Obama only lost it by 5 points in 2008, and there's been a huge demographic shift there over the past 20 years. The gap between whites and nonwhites has shrunk dramatically. In 2000, it was two-thirds white. Now it's almost evenly split. And, of course, Democrats have run up huge margins with black and Latino voters.
MONTAGNE: Now, both candidates - they're going to fight for these states, right?
MONTANARO: Absolutely. And, you know, we should note that this is just a picture in time. There is no way to say that this is predictive of what's going to happen. This is the landscape as it is now. Both candidates are spending money - or at least promising to, in Trump's case - in all of these states. You know, but here's what's amazing about this. If the election were held today, Hillary Clinton would need to just win the states already leaning in her direction, where she has significant leads, and she would cross the number of electoral votes needed to be president.
So to make matters worse for Trump, when you look at the toss-up states, in all of them right now, Hillary Clinton is leading. We're talking about Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa and, yes (laughter), even Georgia. So at this point, because of those controversies with Trump that have found himself in after these conventions, Clinton would win in a landslide of 2008 proportions.
MONTAGNE: Very dramatic sounding.
MONTAGNE: Still, three months to go.
MONTANARO: Absolutely true. And a lot can happen - only a picture in time, like I said. But already, it's affecting the way the campaigns spend their money. We've seen the Clinton campaign pull some of the resources out of Colorado and Virginia because they are confident. We've seen, though, the Republican National Committee, who is - which is supplementing a lot of Trump's on-the-ground organization, focusing very intensely on - in Florida. And Trump is still within...
MONTANARO: ...Striking distance in that all-important state.
MONTAGNE: Domenico, thanks very much.
MONTANARO: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro with a look at the latest NPR battleground map, which you can view at npr.org.
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