Introduction – How JMC Analytics and Polling calls a state
(1) Safe Democratic/Clinton or safe Republican/Trump (dark blue/red) – If no polls have been conducted within the last 7 days for that state, a 2012 Obama (or Romney) percentage of 60% or above gets this rating. If polls have been conducted, a Clinton (or Trump) average of 50% (or at least a 10-point lead in the polls) or more gets this classification;
(2) Lean Democratic/Clinton or lean Republican/Trump (light blue/red) – If no polls have been conducted within the last 7 days for that state, a 2012 Clinton (or Trump) percentage between 53-59% gets this rating. If polls have been conducted, a Clinton (or Trump) average percentage of 49% or less with a lead of between 3-10 points will get this classification;
(3) Tossup (yellow) – If there was any polling done, a candidate leads by less than 3 points or the 2012 election results had the winning candidate (Obama or Romney) receiving 52% or less;
Presidential Scorecard as of September 25
2012 Electoral Vote: Barack Obama – 332, Mitt Romney 206
Current Electoral Vote (based on last 7 days’ polling): Hillary Clinton – 236, Donald Trump 236, Undecided 66
- Moved Pennsylvania from “Leans Clinton” to “Tossup” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Nevada and North Carolina from “Tossup” to “Leans Trump” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Louisiana from “Leans Trump” to “Solid Trump” since the last scorecard
On the eve of the first (and most critical) Presidential debate, America on the domestic front has had a rough week, from terrorist incidents to race demonstrations tied to police shootings. On the political front, it would seem that continuing evidence of Republican disunity (in the form of former President George H.W. Bush’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton) would provide further electoral drag on the Trump campaign, but there has been no evidence that this has been the case: polling averages for the Presidential race over the last seven days have showed a 43-43% tie (with 10% supporting a third party candidate), which is virtually identical to last week’s results. As this has happened, President Obama’s approval rating dropped a bit, to a 50-47% approval/disapproval.
However, the state by state polling still shows some movement towards Trump, with Nevada and North Carolina’s now being added to the Trump column, while recent polling in Pennsylvania shows a tightening of the race, thus making that swing state a tossup.
What has been both interesting and frustrating (depending on your point of view) about the 2016 Presidential election cycle is that traditional metrics of a successful campaign (party unity, money raised and/or spent) are irrelevant in a year where by a 64-30% margin, voters are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, and by a 79-12% margin are dissatisfied with the job performance of the U.S. Congress. The very spectacle of prominent Republicans (such as the Bush clan and former Bush administration officials) refusing to endorse their own nominee, as well as Donald Trump’s being outspent $157 to $34 million dollars would be disastrous to him in an ordinary year, but it seems that ordinary voters have other ideas.
However, this election is certainly not over – by a long shot. Donald Trump is now at electoral parity with Hillary Clinton, but it is critical that he give voters a reason to think he is “Presidential material” in tomorrow night’s debate. Similarly, Hillary Clinton has to show a human face to her campaign, and be able to parry questions about her penchant for secrecy by demonstrating that she is capable (both mentally and physically) of holding the Oval Office. As far as first debates go, this one is fairly high-stakes.
And now that we are in debate season (Presidential debates are tomorrow night, October 9, and October 19, while the Vice-Presidential debate is on October 4), there is another variable playing out right now that will impact the final outcome: early voting is underway in several states, and approximately 10K have already voted by mail (7K of that alone has come from swing state North Carolina). While in person early voting doesn’t occur on a larger scale for two more weeks, it does start in Iowa this week, and historically, Democrats have used the extended early voting period in that state to their advantage. Both in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama carried Iowa solely from a large margin among early voters: in 2012, his 59-39% margin from the early vote more than eclipsed the 51-46% margin Romney had among those voting on Election Day.
In conclusion, while Donald Trump has seen almost continuous momentum for several weeks, he has to turn in a credible performance in tomorrow night’s debate, since this is the first time he’s shared the stage with Hillary Clinton, and voters will finally be able to compare the two.