Ever-shifting polls have offered a sometimes-confusing picture of this year's presidential race, with CNN noting Hillary Clinton has taken the lead over Donald Trump more often than not. But a new CNN-ORC poll of 886 registered voters and 786 likely voters, taken between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4, shows a neck-and-neck race, with Trump eking out a two-point lead (45% to Clinton's 43%, with a 3.5-percentage-point error margin)—and each candidate appealing to specific demographics. Trump, for example, holds substantial leads over Clinton among males, whites, and independents, while Clinton can confidently claim more women (especially nonmarried ones), voters under the age of 45, nonwhites (by an almost four-to-one margin), and voters with college degrees. Throwing a wrench in the mix: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who holds 7% of voters in the poll and whose third-party bid has attracted support from younger voters and white voters with college degrees—the same groups that tend to gravitate toward Clinton.
But here's where it gets murky: Per a Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll of all 50 states cited in the Post—the largest survey the paper has ever done, with more than 74,000 registered voters weighing in from Aug. 9 to Sept. 1—the electoral college advantage goes solidly to Clinton. Trump has garnered support in the Midwest—voters are generally older and whiter there, the paper points out—has taken a bit of a lead in the battlegrounds of Iowa and Ohio, and hovers close to Clinton in states that have gone blue in six consecutive elections, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. But Clinton holds a strong standing in many battleground states and, notably, in states that have traditionally leaned GOP, including Arizona, Georgia, and Texas (which the Post notes as the "biggest surprise," with Clinton holding a one percentage point lead). "To win the election, Trump must quickly consolidate the Republican vote," the Post notes. (Read more Election 2016 stories.)