Two polls came out on Tuesday that have made election watchers — especially Republican ones — lose their minds. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll found Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Texas, a traditional GOP stronghold, by a slim margin of just six points (44 percent to 38 percent). Meanwhile, in Florida, which is typically considered one of the tightly-fought battleground states, Monmouth University found Clinton winning by nearly double digits, earning 48 percent of the vote to Trump's 39 percent.
To put these recent polls in perspective, in 2012, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama in the Lone Star State by a healthy 16 points (57 percent to 41 percent), with a margin of over 1.2 million votes. In the same year, Obama won Florida by less than 1 percent, just over 70,000 votes.
This is the crazy reality of an election where one candidate (*cough* Trump *cough*) is running a frazzled campaign, offending large and diverse groups of people and facing denunciations from his own party. As a result, he's losing nationally to Clinton by nearly seven points, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average. Moreover, Trump hasn't shown any sign of turning things around.
What's especially interesting in state-specific polls is seeing how Trump's support has cratered among Republicans when compared to Romney's. Red states seem to be reluctant to back the GOP nominee the way they normally do. In fact, consider the below tweet from University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden:
The more reliably red a state is, the bigger gap in support between Romney in 2012 and Trump in 2016.
All of which suggests that it really is a problem with Trump — other Republicans are hurting, but not collapsing. The same Florida poll by Monmouth University that found Trump doing so poorly also found Marco Rubio beating his most likely opponent for his Senate reelection by five points. Considering that Trump beat Rubio in his home state's Republican primary by a hefty 18.7 points (45.7 percent to 27 percent) half a year ago, it would seem that many Republicans are feeling buyer's remorse.
With these kinds of numbers, it's becoming hard for Trump to make any sort of comeback. NBC News found that if every state polling Democratic with a significant lead went for her, Clinton could win the election while losing every close race. Priorities USA, a Super PAC that makes ads supporting Clinton, has pulled their spending in Virginia, Colorado and Pennsylvania because, apparently, Clinton is polling so well it's not worth the bang for the buck.
Texas is not the only surprising state to have a close race. Polls in Georgia have been shockingly close — a few even have Clinton winning — for a state that has only gone Democratic once since 1980.
Even if Clinton doesn't need these classically red states to win, Democrats would love to pick them up. Contesting states that don't normally have fights allow the Democrats to increase their state organization and set up future wins there as well. Georgia and Texas have long been dreams for the Dems — both have lots of minority and college educated voters, which have trended more and more towards the Democrats recently. In the Texas poll, Clinton was actually leading 49 to 44 percent among voters under 65, suggesting the future of the Lone Star State could be bright blue.
At the same time, Trump might be a special case, temporarily turning Texas bluer. Many of the voters in the state, more than anything, seem to be looking for an alternative. Along with its normal election poll, PPP's poll of Texas included some surprising results:
Deez Nuts/Harambe 2016? The team could beat Jill Stein, at least.
Image: Bustle/Caroline Wurtzel