Make-or-break Florida is a dead heat between Trump and Clinton

A voter in the Florida primary.
(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida is a make-or-break state for Donald Trump. To win the presidency, he needs to lock down the Sunshine State — or else beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, plus a state like Michigan or Virginia, where she is currently comfortably ahead in the polls.

And according to analysis by The New York Times' Upshot, Florida is going to be a nail-biter of a contest come November. The New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll reports that in a four-way race with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Clinton leads 41 to 40, and in a head-to-head, it is a tie at 43-43.

Instead of being a mix of purple cities, the Upshot's analysis shows that most regions are almost cleanly divided as red or blue voting pockets based on demographics. In Florida, Trump keeps his hopes alive with white voters, both college educated and not — he leads 51 percent to Clinton's 30 percent. But when it comes to Hispanic communities, Clinton has a 61 percent to 21 percent lead, doing even better with the demographic than President Obama in 2012. Black voters also overwhelmingly back Clinton, 82 percent to 4 percent.

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Many regions of the state are becoming less competitive, with Miami-Dade County looking to be a Democratic hold and north Tampa and Daytona Beach solidifying as Republican. A retirement community, The Villages, with a population of 150,000, looks to be a comfortable win for Trump; older voters in the state strongly prefer him. Young voters back Clinton by a healthy margin, although over half say they don't view her favorably.

The poll was the first of its kind from the Upshot, which used voter file data from L2, a nonpartisan vendor. "We used the responses to our poll to build a statistical model of the vote preferences of every registered voter, based on the information available in the L2 voter file. It's the same basic approach taken by the major campaigns' data analytics and targeting teams," The New York Times explained. The sample of 867 likely voters, reached on landlines and cell phones in English and Spanish between Sept. 10 and 14, was modeled using this L2 data. Comparable polls in Florida in September include ones by CNN and PPP, which give Trump a margin of +3 and +1 respectively, and CBS/YouGov, which has Clinton up +2. A Quinnipiac poll between Aug. 29 and Sept. 7 showed Clinton and Trump tied.

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