Clinton and Trump Are Neck and Neck in Florida With a Week to Go

After months of savage campaigning, untold hours of blowhards screaming at one another on television, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on advertising, Florida's vital 29 Electoral College votes are poised on a knife's edge. The fate of the presidential election could well hinge on a few thousand votes in the Sunshine State.

Sound familiar? Hanging chads may have gone the way of Al Gore's presidential ambitions, but polls in the wake of the latest FBI dive into Hillary Clinton's emails suggest Florida is once again the most purple of key electoral states.

Two new polls out Sunday show a crazy-tight race in Florida. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll finds Clinton leading by a hair, at 45 percent to 44 percent, in a four-way race including Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

Intriguingly, the poll shows Clinton has a wide lead — 54 to 37 percent — among those who've already voted in Florida, while Trump is ahead among those who have yet to vote. That could mean good news for Clinton, because those actually punching ballots are in her favor, or it could mean a late surge for Trump — assuming those Donald fans show up to the polls.

A fresh New York Times/Sienna poll also landed Sunday, and it tags Trump with a four-point lead in Florida, 46 to 42.

The Times upshot, though, warns that the race is probably much tighter than shown. "It should be interpreted with caution," the Times writes. "In general, it is best to look at an average of polls. Mrs. Clinton still leads in an average of recent Florida surveys by nearly three points."

Indeed, despite the latest email shenanigans and a brutal weekend of bad headlines for the Democratic nominee, polls suggest not much has changed in the race.

A national Politico/Morning Consult survey out this morning finds that Clinton is still clinging to a narrow three-point lead over Trump nationally. A majority of voters said the FBI's surprise announcement Friday didn't affect their voting plans.

For what it's worth, Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight still gives Clinton a reasonably solid chance of taking Florida. His polling averages give Clinton a 58.9 percent chance of winning the Sunshine State.

The lesson here is probably pretty simple: Whomever you're backing in this horse race, go to the polls, because Florida is likely to be a razor-tight finish in a tightening national election.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink