Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a dead heat in the presidential race, polls indicated Monday. The online polling website FiveThirtyEight.com went even further, saying that if the elections were held Monday, ahead of the first presidential debate, Trump would be the next president of the United States,
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The forecast, which gives Trump a lead on Clinton, is based on FiveThirtyEight's 'Now-cast' polling model, a fast-changing tool that gathers all the latest data as it rolls in from regional polls and other statistical information. The group's regular forecast, however, gives Clinton a slight lead.
Two national polls released hours before the first presidential debate highlighted how tight the electoral race. A survey by Bloomberg forecast 43 percent support for Trump, and 41 for Clinton, while Quinnipiac University's poll of 1,115 voters put Clinton at 44 percent against Trump's 43. Both polls surveyed eligible voters' positons as of the end of last week.
On Monday, Bloomberg had the two polling in a virtual deadlock, with 46 percent each, and Real Clear Politics' poll-of-polls had Clinton leading Trump 45.9 percent to 43.8.
Monday's faceoff is expected to draw in a record television audience. According to recent polls, the debates will help up to half of U.S. voters to decide between the two.
Clinton had a four-percentage point advantage over Trump, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll released on Friday.
The Sept. 16-22 opinion poll showed that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton, while 37 percent supported Trump. Clinton has mostly led Trump in the poll during the 2016 campaign, though her advantage has narrowed since the end of the Democratic and Republican national conventions in July.
With just six weeks before the Nov. 8 election, Monday's debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York will be the first of three between the White House rivals. It presents a major opportunity for them to appeal to voters who have yet to commit to a candidate after a mostly negative race in which Clinton and Trump have sought to brand each other as untrustworthy and dangerous for the country.
The live, televised matchup is expected to draw a Super Bowl-sized television audience of 100 million Americans, according to some commentators.
Half of America's likely voters will rely on the presidential debates to help them make their choice between, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday said.
Some 50 percent of likely voters think the debates will help inform their decision over whom to support, including 10 percent who say they are not currently leaning either way, according to the opinion poll.
Some 39 percent said the debates will not help, and 11 percent said they did not know how the debates would affect them.
In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue. That included 73 percent of people who identified themselves as Trump supporters and 82 percent of those who said they back Clinton, according to the results.