October 19, 2016 3:55 pm
Updated: October 19, 2016 5:59 pm

Will Hillary Clinton lead the Democrats to victory in traditionally Republican states?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets supporters in Seattle, Washington.


As Donald Trump‘s campaign reels from scandals, utterances and once-closeted skeletons, a new poll shows Hillary Clinton is headed toward winning some states that traditionally vote Republican.

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With her growing lead, now at 6.8 per cent, come hints that stronghold Republican states like Texas and Arizona are within reach for her, as too close to call.

With one exception, Arizona last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1948. A Washington Post poll Tuesday showed Trump with only a three-point lead there.

Two polls show Trump leading Clinton in Texas, which has been voting for Republican presidents since 1980, by only 2-3 points.

The Post poll also showed Clinton leading in Georgia and North Carolina. Both states have only voted for Democrats in three elections out of the last 13.

Reflecting the campaign’s new confidence, Clinton aides said Monday that the campaign was buying US$2 million in air time in Arizona, and had scheduled a campaign stop in Phoenix by first lady Michelle Obama, one of Clinton’s most effective surrogates.

READ: What to expect from the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

For months, Clinton’s campaign has been eyeing an expansion into Arizona, where Hispanic voters make up more than 15 per cent of the electorate and Trump’s sharp language about immigrants have left him vulnerable, said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. 

Clinton’s numbers buoy Democrats’ hopes in Senate

Democrats hope, and Republicans fear, that Trump’s slide in the polls will affect congressional races.

Democrats need to pick up at least four seats to regain control of the Senate, which a President Hillary Clinton would need to, among other things, have Supreme Court appointments confirmed. The Post poll showed Democrats likely to take Senate seats from Republicans in New Hampshire, North Carolina and Wisconsin, and competitive in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Senate Republicans have blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court to replace Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly earlier this year. The deadlock has left the court with an awkward even number of judges (eight), which raises the danger of ties.

WATCH: Voters in Utah have traditionally backed Republican candidates, but that’s all changed thanks to Donald Trump and values that are at odds with the beliefs of many in the state. Jackson Proskow reports from Salt Lake City.

READ: Donald Trump releases list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices

Evangelicals torn between loyalty to GOP, alarm at Trump

The election has bitterly divided conservative white evangelicals between those who have decided to defend Trump for the sake of a generation-old alliance with the Republican party, and those who can’t stomach him.

After Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. reaffirmed his support for Trump after numerous women came forward to say he had sexually assaulted them, 2,500 people affiliated with the conservative Virginia college signed a petition condemning him.

Though some are staying with Trump, conservative white evangelicals won’t be the solid block they have been for the GOP in previous elections. Many will not want to vote for Clinton, either, but having a large number of natural Republicans stay home in disgust is a good thing both for Clinton and other Democrats in downballot contests.

Utah a wild card

Mormons, usually bedrock conservative Republicans who turn Utah into the reddest of red states (Utah has voted for a Democrat for the presidency once since 1948, and backed Mitt Romney by 72 per cent in 2012) have shunned Trump. Polls in Utah showed Trump losing 13 points almost overnight as the sexual assault allegations emerged.

Other Republican political leaders in Utah have made a point of renouncing Trump, much more consistently and forcefully than those in other states.

Utahns can’t find much enthusiasm for Clinton, either, though.

“So many of my Mormon friends and family are in a huge quandary about what to do,” Crystal Young-Otterstrom of Mormons for Hillary told Global National’s Jackson Proskow.

“There is a lot of built-up angst against the Clintons among many Mormons, and so they need a lot of reassurance that voting for Hillary doesn’t mean that the government’s going to force them to marry gays in the temple.”

Another option for conservative Utahns is Evan McMullin, a 40-year-old former CIA officer. A Mormon, born and raised in the state, McMullin calls himself  “the only conservative ticket in this election.”

poll published last week by the Salt Lake City Deseret News showed Utah in a rough three-way race between Trump, McMullin and Clinton. With almost three weeks left in the campaign, and with Trump giving alienated conservatives more and more reasons to not vote for him, it’s not hard to imagine him taking Utah’s six electoral votes.

WATCH: How exactly do Americans elect their president? As U.S. citizens prepare to vote on Nov. 8, Global’s Monique Scotti breaks down the U.S. electoral college.

With files from the Associated Press


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