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 2
2012 Electoral Vote: Barack Obama – 332, Mitt Romney 206
Current Electoral Vote (based on last 7 days’ polling): Hillary Clinton – 236, Donald Trump 197, Undecided 105
- Moved New Jersey from “Solid Clinton” to Leans Clinton” since the last scorecard;
- Moved Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio from “Leans Trump” to “Tossup” since the last scorecard
Has Khizr Khan now been replaced by Alicia Machado as a costly distraction for the Trump campaign? For nearly two months, Donald Trump has had a nearly flawless campaign, while it was Hillary Clinton in September who was caught in a major gaffe (her overheating incident didn’t help, either), and on the eve of last Monday night’s debate, the race was tied. Then came Monday night’s debate, and not only did Hillary Clinton have a nearly flawless performance, but she caught Donald Trump in several gaffes: his implicit admission that not paying taxes “made him smart”, saying that his hope that the housing market would collapse in 2006 “is called business, by the way”, then his repeated attacks on Alicia Machado about her weight on the night of debate and for several days after that. In other words, plenty of material for a new wave of anti-Trump commercials.
Yet despite all this, and a late breaking development last night from leaked tax returns that suggested Donald Trump could have avoided paying taxes for nearly 20 years due to a massive $900 million dollar loss in 1995, the poll numbers haven’t changed much. A week ago, the seven day poll average was a 43-43% tie between Clinton and Trump (with 10% supporting a third party candidate), while the poll average as of this afternoon only showed a 45-44% Clinton lead, with 10% supporting a third party candidate – in other words, a one point “bounce” towards Clinton. Granted, it takes several days to conduct fieldwork for many polls, so the full electoral effect of the debate/leaked tax returns (if any) will be felt this upcoming week. Still, the atmospherics remain bad for Clinton: people by a 66-25% margin have an unfavorable opinion about the direction of the country (a five point widening of the gap since last week), and President Obama’s 51-46% approval rating isn’t especially strong.
The state by state polling shows some movement towards Clinton (or, more specifically, that the race is now a tossup) in Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio, but Clinton is still under the 270 electoral votes she needs to win.
So while we wait for additional polling to confirm or deny whether the numbers have noticeably changed, the Vice-Presidential debate is on Tuesday night, while the next Presidential debate is a week from today, and the last debate will be on October 19. From past encounters, the Vice Presidential debate won’t help either Presidential candidate, although a disastrous performance can certainly hurt.
Early voting has accelerated some: as of this afternoon, approximately 75K have already voted by mail and/or in-person. This will only accelerate as we get into October and the next wave of in person early voting commences in just over a week in states like California, Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio (in person early voting in Louisiana commences on October 25).
In conclusion, while Donald Trump’s debate performance and repeated negative remarks about Alicia Machado would seem to have hurt his campaign like his Khizr Khan remarks did two months ago, there is not yet evidence that the numbers have changed much. If he can get through next week with minimal damage (and assuming that neither Vice-Presidential candidate hurts himself in the debate), it’s possible his numbers may resume their uphill climb.