A couple of weeks ago, I had an article published regarding the lack of options in this year’s presidential election, entitled “ELECTION 2016: THE YEAR WITHOUT A CANDIDATE“, where I highlighted the significant flaws that exist within the candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson. Indeed, if you take a look at head-to-head matchups between the top 2 candidates, more than 1 out of every ten voters favors a 3rd option; the most recent RCP (RealClearPolitics) average of polls shows that 10.9% of voters aren’t choosing either major party’s candidate. However, there has been a recent shift in the polls which suggests that maybe, just maybe, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
Fueled by her post-DNC bump, Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Trump had ballooned, with the RCP average in the first week after showing her up 47.6% to his 40.2%, a full 7.4% advantage. The momentum was evident – Trump had shaved Clinton’s lead down to 44.25%-43.1% at the conclusion of the RNC the week prior. To make matters worse for Trump, the electoral map was looking like more and more of a disaster; a significantly important indicator of which direction the election is going to go in, as the national popular vote has little relevance to the result.
Let’s examine how key swing states on the electoral map were looking for Trump before his recent resurgence, and compare them with how they look at the present:
Missouri – A state in which Romney defeated Obama 4 years ago, 53.8% to 44.4%, Trump was trailing Clinton by a percentage point during the 4th week of July. Now, Trump is up overall by 6%, a potential gain of 10 electoral votes.
North Carolina – Romney barely won North Carolina, 50.4% to 48.4%, yet a month ago Trump was trailing by 9 points, 45% to 36%. Trump has since closed the gap, down by just .3% (42.4% to 42%). This state is officially back to toss-up status, and could swing another 15 electoral votes to Trump.
Pennsylvania – Long considered a fool’s gold state for any Republican nominee, Obama won the Keystone State 52% to 47% four years ago. Clinton held a nearly double-digit lead here a month ago, but that lead is currently positioned at 6 points, 46% to 40%. The chances are this will remain a blue state, but as is a common theme, Trump’s momentum is there.
Iowa – The state that helped propel Obama to the nomination in 2008, Iowans opted for Mr. Obama over Romney, 52% to 46%. Neither candidate has held any significant lead here since June, and presently Trump has a slight edge, 40% to 39%. These precious six electoral votes could be the difference maker in November.
Virginia – Close to the beltway, the Commonwealth of Virginia is a pretty reliably blue state, handing its 13 electoral votes to President Obama in 2012, 51% to 47%. A month ago, Clinton held a 13% lead over Trump. That lead is now down to 6.3 points, 45% to 38.7%. If Trump can manage to wrest this state away, the electoral math becomes much more intriguing.
Ohio – No Republican presidential candidate has EVER won the White House without the Buckeye State, and that held true in 2012, as Obama defeated Romney here, 50.7% to 47.7%. A few weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton’s lead was around 5%, but that has been trimmed down to 3.3 points, 44% to 40.7%. Trump HAS to win here.
Florida – The Sunshine State, which in the last 16 years has been one of the most critical states for both sides, chose Obama 4 years ago, by the slimmest of margins at 50% to 49.1%. Very little recent polling data is available in my home state, but a Monmouth poll from a few weeks ago had Mrs. Clinton up by 9 points. The current RCP average is only 3.6 points for her, 44.3% to 40.7%. Our 29 electoral votes put Bush over the top in 2000, and would go a long way to pushing Trump over the top, too.
Colorado – I’m going to end my state-by-state analysis with Colorado, for one very important reason: Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use, an issue which appears to be helping the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. Obama carried Colorado 51.5% to Romney’s 46.1%, and although Clinton holds a sizable lead here (39.7% to 30%), Johnson is pulling in almost 15%. Mr. Johnson’s double-digit showing has been quite stable since early July, and if he can grow his lead further, he may have an impact on the electoral vote.
Back in August, I estimated that Mrs. Clinton was working with about 357 electoral votes, carrying all the swing states, holding the Obama states, and flipping a couple of red states, including Georgia. At present, an argument can be made that that number may be as low as 273 votes, putting Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio into the toss-up category, and giving Iowa and Georgia to Trump. That still gives Mrs. Clinton the presidency, and keeps Trump at just 203 votes; however, if he can win over Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, he’s at 265.
We have less than nine weeks left in this race, folks. Fasten your seatbelts. The upcoming debates could decide which of these candidates becomes president.
It’s not over……..yet.