According to the average of polls reported by RealClearPolitics.com, Donald Trump is running an average of 4.9 points ahead of Romney in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. This rust belt surge suggests that Trump may be running better among former Reagan Democrats than he is among traditional Republicans.
But, on the other hand, he is running 2.3 points behind Romney’s performance in the southern states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.
This startling finding implies that Trump can — and perhaps must — craft a new pathway to the magic 270 votes he needs to win.
There may be a new Rust Belt path to the nomination.
Ohio (18 votes) went to Obama by 1.9 but Trump is leading there by 3.3.
Pennsylvania (20) went for Obama in 2012 by 5.8 points. But Trump is only 2.6 behind and the most recent poll has the state tied.
Michigan (16) went for Obama by a whopping 9.5 points in 2012 but the most recent poll has it tied and another private poll has Trump three ahead
Wisconsin (10) went for Obama by 7.9 points but Trump is gaining there.
So even if Trump loses Florida, he may have a way forward through Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The pathway based on 2012 would indicate tough sledding. He has to carry North Carolina and Florida to win unless he can pull off unexpected wins in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Trump is showing unexpected weakness in North Carolina (only 1.4 ahead, a state Romney carried by 2.2) and in Florida (1.2 behind in a state Romney lost by only 0.9).
Indeed, if all states went the way their RealClearPolitics.com average suggests, Trump would win the 206 votes Romney got plus Ohio (18), Nevada (6), Iowa (6), and NH (4). That would leave him at 240 votes, 30 shy of victory. He’s got to carry Florida (29)…unless he can carry Pennsylvania and Michigan.
His appeal to blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” more than to traditional Republicans may pull him over the finish line.