U.S. Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton is holding only a narrow advantage over Republican Donald Trump in national political surveys of voter preferences, but analysts say she is substantially ahead in the state-by-state contests that will actually determine the outcome of the November national election.
An average of polls taken during the past month show Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, holds a 44.6 percent to 42.6 percent edge over Trump, a New York real estate tycoon.
But U.S. presidential elections are not determined by the national popular vote.
Rather they are decided by the electoral college, with each of the country's 50 states having a say in the outcome based on its population and the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress. So it is possible, as happened in 2000, that a presidential candidate can lose the national popular vote, as former President George W. Bush narrowly did that year, and still win the White House with more electoral votes.
There are 538 electors, with a majority 270 needed to claim the presidency.
Five U.S. news outlets and independent political analysts all say that Clinton, seeking to become the first female U.S. president, is ahead in electoral college projections.
The CNN cable news outlet shows Clinton with a 236-191 lead in electoral votes with 111 up for grabs in too-close-to call battleground states, while the Real Clear Politics website has her ahead 209-164 with 165 undecided. The New York Times has the electoral college projection at 191-154 in favor of Clinton, but suggesting that she would win nine of 10 key, undecided states that would make her the country's 45th president.
Independent political analysts Stuart Rothenberg and Nathan Gonzales show Clinton with a 332-191 edge, with just 15 undecided in the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina.
Another independent election seer, Charlie Cook, also shows Clinton at the moment with enough electoral votes to claim the presidency, 304-190, with states with 44 electoral votes too close to call.
Polls have shown that majorities of voters dislike both Clinton and Trump, him more so than her.
In his analysis a few days ago, Cook said, "There’s no question that the Democratic Party is not in particularly good standing right now, with a very large swath of the electorate either disliking or distrusting Hillary Clinton, but the (Republicans) and especially Trump appear to have a greater set of challenges."
He said, "This is clearly a close race, and the outcome can go either way. Both candidates are enormously polarizing ... The question now is whether campaign events and missteps, conventions, debates, or exogenous events can shift that edge in Trump’s favor or give Clinton a bigger lead."