2016 Presidential Election: Updates on polls, swing states and Nate Silver projections

AP

After months of watching a highly experienced politician do daily battle with a man famous for his fake tan and his fake university, we are nearly at the end of our road: Election Day 2016 begins in less than 24 hours. 

As we round the final bend and tensions mount, it may comfort readers to gain clearer insight into what, exactly, we can expect on Nov. 8. Hurtling into Election Day, Hillary Clinton maintains her lead over Donald Trump. Here's the breakdown.

Polls

According to the latest average from RealClearPolitics, Clinton is more than 2 points ahead of Trump nationwide. The Democratic nominee's lead has remained fairly constant in recent days, even after FBI Director James Comey interrupted the news cycle in late October to announce his renewed scrutiny of Clinton's damn emails. On Sunday, Comey announced — for a second time — that nothing on the candidate's private server was worth prosecuting. 

When the news broke, the Trump campaign reportedly became so worked up about it that its chief executive, Stephen Bannon, literally caught fire. The email probe doesn't seem to have mattered much, though. 

Stephen Bannon, probably  Giphy

A Bloomberg poll released Monday morning showed Clinton up by 3 points, with 46% support among those polled to Trump's 43%.  Of those surveyed, 37% had already voted and 63% definitely planned to vote.

The latest installment of a tracking poll conducted by NBC News and Survey Monkey showed Clinton 6 points ahead of Trump, with 47% of voter support against Trump's 41%. What's more, the poll has charted a consistent lead for Clinton, between 4 and 6 points since September. 

Hillary Clinton has emerged from James Comey's email panic largely unscathed.  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll results released Monday reflect a similarly narrow margin for Clinton, with 47% support among likely voters polled to Trump's 43%. Most participants seemed to feel they were choosing the better of two bad options, though.

Of course, there are outliers: Sunday's University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak Poll put Trump ahead of Clinton by 5 points, 48% to 43%. At this point, most polls reflect a Clinton victory.

Swing states

The nail-biting moments Tuesday night will come from the battleground states, the most important of which have typically been Ohio and Florida. While, since 1964, no one has won the presidency without winning Ohio, the Buckeye State might matter less this year. According to Politico, most Ohio polls either put Trump ahead of Clinton or have the two candidates tied, and an Emerson College poll released Monday puts him 7 points ahead, with 46% support among likely voters there to Clinton's 39%.

Donald Trump's chances are looking good in Ohio — but Ohio may not matter in the 2016 election.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Because Ohio is overwhelmingly white, however, it may matter less in this election — Clinton's support base is racially diverse, so a loss in Ohio may not be devastating. She can gain enough ground in other states to make up the difference.

Florida, which is FiveThirtyEight's most important tipping-point state, could be one place either candidate could clinch a win. Clinton's lead there is narrow, but according to the Upshot, she has a 66% chance of winning the state. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday gave Clinton 46% support to Trump's 45%, meaning Florida is too close to call.

The same is true of North Carolina, according to Quinnipiac. Among voters polled, Clinton has a 2-point advantage. Politico's averages are similarly narrow. The most recent Upshot poll shows both Clinton and Trump tied at 44%.

Pennsylvania could also prove crucial, and there, Clinton enjoys a stronger lead. Politico's averages put her 4 points ahead of Trump, while the Upshot puts her 5 points ahead with an 89% chance of taking the state. 

In Michigan, which is FiveThirtyEight's third most important tipping-point state, Clinton's chances look good: Politico puts her an average of 6 points ahead, while the Upshot gives her a 92% chance of victory. 

Nate Silver's projections

Much vaunted election forecaster Nate Silver (right)  Donald Kravitz/Getty Images

Speaking of FiveThirtyEight, what does master election forecaster Nate Silver have to say about all this? Silver's election projection for Monday gives Clinton a 68.5% chance of winning the election versus Trump's 31.5%. That 1-in-3 shot has had Democrats nervous, and even led Huffington Post's Washington Bureau chief, Ryan Grim, to accuse Silver of "monkeying around" with poll results to bolster Trump's standing. 

Both HuffPost Pollster and the Upshot have miles more optimistic outlooks on the election's outcome, the former giving the race to Clinton 98.1% to 1.6%, and the latter forecasting an 84% chance of success for the Democratic nominee. The gulf in the separate outlets' calculations left Grim skeptical, but Silver stands by his forecast. At the end of the day, he pointed out in an article published Sunday, a 1-in-3 shot still makes Trump "a fairly significant underdog."

Still, there's no saying what will happen before the last votes are counted.

Nov. 7, 2016, 12:55 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.