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 October 9
2012 Electoral Vote: Barack Obama – 332, Mitt Romney 206
Current Electoral Vote (based on last 7 days’ polling): Hillary Clinton – 280, Donald Trump 186, Undecided 72
- Moved Illinois, Oregon, and Washington from “Leans Clinton” to “Solid Clinton” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Colorado, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania from “Tossup” to “Leans Clinton” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Arizona from “Leans Trump” to “Tossup” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Indiana from “Solid Trump” to “Leans Trump” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Tennessee from “Leans Trump” to “Solid Trump” since the last scorecard;
The 2016 Presidential election campaign is currently at an inflection point. Two weeks ago, an unfocused debate performance (accompanied by several gaffes) had halted Trump’s slow but steady rise in the polls. And last week’s revelation that he had avoided paying taxes for nearly 20 years due to a massive $900 million dollar loss he faced in 1995 didn’t seem to help much either. Things did seem to look up recently several days ago when Mike Pence (his Vice Presidential nominee) had turned in a solid debate performance that articulated Republican values and focused attacks on Hillary Clinton in a way that Donald Trump was unable to do in his first debate.
(UPDATED 10/9 PM) Yet despite all these external events that would cripple most campaigns, the polling numbers have not provided much direction as to where the Presidential race is heading. A 45-44% Clinton lead a week ago is almost unchanged, at 45-43% Clinton (with 9% supporting third party candidates). And while people remain pessimistic about the direction of the country, that number has improved somewhat since last week, with the margin of those being more pessimistic closing from 40 to 33 points. President Obama’s approval rating, at 51-46%, remained unchanged. In other words, from the standpoint of the national polls, the debate/leaked tax returns/VP debate have barely moved the needle.
When examining the state by state polling, however, there has undeniably been some movement towards Clinton that has once again put her over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. While it is at this stage in the campaign that states of one partisan leaning or another tend to solidify towards or against a candidate (which is what happened for Clinton in Illinois, Oregon and Washington, while Tennessee is solidly for Trump), Arizona has gone from leaning towards Trump to being a tossup state, while Colorado (45-39% Clinton lead) and North Carolina (45-42% Clinton lead) have drifted back towards Clinton, and Pennsylvania (48-39% Clinton) remains an ever elusive state for the Trump campaign.
So while there has been some movement towards the Democrats, we are for the next week in uncharted waters: two days ago, revelations of lewd remarks Trump made about women were revealed, causing dozens of Republican officeholders not only to condemn him, but to “go nuclear” and withdraw their support, and the national Republican Party went a step further and basically pulled out of the Trump campaign – it allowed its staffers to “vote their conscience” regarding further involvement with the campaign.
Given that this has happened so recently (as well as the fact that the debate performance/tax return revelations/Alicia Machado attacks have not substantially moved the numbers), it will take several days for the full effects to be felt, although the extent of the Republican meltdown is certainly unprecedented.
In the mean time, Trump and Clinton face off in a second debate tonight in a “townhall” format, with undecided voters being its participants. Given that events have generally NOT gone Trump’s way since the first debate, his task tonight is more difficult – he has to establish that he has the temperament to be President, while simultaneously defending himself against the lewd remarks and any new allegations the Clinton campaign may unearth. Clinton has a different challenge: she must be careful about the extent to which she attacks Trump, since it’s important for her (much like Reagan in 1980) to “close the sale” with wavering Republicans/undecided voters.
Early voting has continued to pick up speed: as of this afternoon, at least 410K have already voted by mail and/or in-person. That number will almost certainly accelerate this upcoming week when in person early voting commences in states like California, Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio (in person early voting in Louisiana commences on October 25).
In conclusion, the last couple of weeks have not been good to Donald Trump, and while we wait to assess the damage from the lewd remarks he made, his immediate challenge is tonight’s debate, where doing well is not an option for him.