Hillary Clinton Leads Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and Florida

logoby Janet Hook

Polls show the GOP nominee lagging in Pennsylvania and Florida, taken before disclosure of 2005 recording

Donald Trump trails in two states that are crucial to his chances of winning the presidency, according to new polls that show Hillary Clinton leading by 12 percentage points in Pennsylvania and by 3 points in Florida.

In Pennsylvania, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll found 49% of likely voters favored Mrs. Clinton, compared with 37% for Mr. Trump, while two third-party candidates drew 10% of the vote.

In Florida, 45% of likely voters favored Mrs. Clinton, with 42% going to Mr. Trump and 8% to other candidates.

The surveys were taken in the first part of last week, before the race was roiled by the disclosure of a 2005 recording in which Mr. Trump talks about women in vulgar terms.

The two states have the largest caches of Electoral College votes of all the battlegrounds in the election, and Mr. Trump’s travel plans make clear their importance: He heads to Pennsylvania and then to Florida for campaign events following Sunday’s presidential debate, the second onstage meeting between the two candidates. Mr. Trump has held more campaign events in Pennsylvania and Florida than any state but Ohio.

The poll results suggest that, despite his efforts, Mr. Trump is struggling for a foothold in Pennsylvania, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since 1988. He is at a particular disadvantage in the densely populated battleground suburbs of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Clinton leads by a large, 36-point margin, the poll found.

Mrs. Clinton has a surer hold on her party than Mr. Trump has on his in Pennsylvania: 90% of likely Democratic voters back her, while 83% of likely Republican voters support him.

“For Hillary Clinton, it’s all about running up the score in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia suburbs,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “For Donald Trump, he still needs to find a way to break the Democrats’ winning streak in the last six presidential contests in the Keystone State.”

In Florida, the two campaigns are locked in a much closer contest among likely voters, the poll found.

Mrs. Clinton’s margin was wider when the survey looked at a broader group: registered voters, who favored her by a 6-point margin. In the August poll, Mrs. Clinton’s margin was about the same, a 5-percentage-point lead among registered voters.

“It’s hard to see how Trump can win the White House without carrying this state,” said Mr. Miringoff.

The two candidates’ strengths in Florida split clearly along racial lines, the poll found. Mrs. Clinton leads among the state’s large Latino population, 61% to 25%, and among black voters 83% to 6%. Among white voters, Mr. Trump leads 54% to 35%.

One reason Mr. Trump is more competitive in Florida than Pennsylvania is that he is running stronger among a key voting bloc that is traditionally a bastion of GOP strength: white women. Mr. Trump leads among that group, 52% to 37% in Florida, but loses among them—37% to 49%—in Pennsylvania.

The polls showed the presence of two other candidates on the ticket, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, didn’t have an impact on who led in the two states. Mr. Johnson drew 6% of likely voters in Pennsylvania and 5% in Florida. Ms. Stein drew 4% of the vote in Pennsylvania and 3% in Florida.

The states are also host to two of the most competitive Senate races in the country, and the polls showed the two Republican incumbents are struggling.

In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio led Democrat Patrick Murphy by 2 percentage points, 48% to 46%, among likely voters. In Pennsylvania, Sen. Patrick Toomey is trailing Democratic rival Katie McGinty by 4 points, 44% to 48%.

The Journal/NBC News/Marist survey of Florida included 700 likely voters. The Pennsylvania survey was conducted Oct. 3-6 and included 709 likely voters. Both surveys had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Janet Hook is a political writers for the Wall Street Journal. Write to Janet Hook at janet.hook@wsj.com

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