U.S. Presidential Race Tightens

08 September, 2016

The U.S. Presidential election is getting closer.

The latest average of major polls shows Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump by 3.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.com.

On August 10, that same average of nine polls had Clinton up by 7.7 percentage points.

A new poll Wednesday by CNN-ORC had Trump ahead by two points -- 45 percent to 43 percent -- among likely voters.

'Bounce' is Gone

Larry Sabato is director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

He said "The tightening is natural. Sabato said it is because the "bounce" Clinton received in polls after the Democratic Party convention in July has gone.

Sabato said Clinton still leads in most of the important swing states that will decide the presidential election. Swing states are states where both Democrats and Republicans have a good chance of winning.

"There's no guarantee she (Clinton) will win, but the odds currently favor her," Sabato said.

In the United States, the candidate who wins the election is not always the one who receives the most votes.

The Electoral College Decides

The election is decided by the Electoral College. Each state has seats in the Electoral College. States with larger populations have more seats.

Trump was very happy about the new CNN poll showing him leading among likely voters. Earlier CNN polls had him losing to Clinton.

"Their big poll came out today that Trump is winning," he said. "It's good psychology. I know that for a fact, because people that didn't call me yesterday, they are calling me today. So that's the way life works, right?"

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump.

A close race might increase the importance of two minor party presidential candidates -- Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein. In the new CNN poll, 7 percent of likely voters support Johnson, 2 percent back Stein.

These low numbers for Johnson and Stein are surprising because large numbers of voters say they doubt whether Trump or Clinton would have the ability to lead the country.

Not Much Confidence

A new 50-state Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll showed these results: 55 percent of registered voters say a Clinton presidency would threaten the well-being of the United States. And 61 percent say a Trump presidency would threaten the nation's well-being.

Nate Silver heads the political website fivethirtyeight.com -- named for the number of voting seats in the Electoral College. He still thinks Clinton is leading, but he says he is less sure than before.

The reason Silver is not sure is that so many voters -- about 20 percent – are telling pollsters that they are undecided or they will vote for a minor party candidate.

Silver gives "Trump better odds of winning than most other" experts who use polls and other information to predict election results. But he said there is "also a significant chance of a Clinton landslide," or win by a very large percentage.

A close race could increase the importance of the four televised candidate debates. The three presidential debates will probably be for only Clinton and Trump without the minor candidates. The fourth, for the vice presidential candidates -- will probably be just for Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine.

The first presidential debate takes place September 26. The election is November 8.

Sabato, the University of Virginia expert, said it is possible a very good debate by one of the candidates, or a major mistake by a candidate might cause people to change their opinions.

But usually, Sabato said, voters watch debates with their opinions already settled.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

Jim Malone reported this story for VOA News. Bruce Alpert adapted the story, and did additional reporting for Learning English. Pete Heinlein was the editor.

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Words in this Story

bounce -- v. an increase in support because of an event or development

swing -- adj. a state that can support either Democratic or Republican parties

odds -- n. chances of something happening

psychology -- n. the science or study of the mind and behavior