The State newspaper is taking a week-by-week look at the polling and Electoral College projections in the presidential race. Numbers will be updated each week until Election Day on Nov. 8.
When Donald Trump faced off with Hillary Clinton in Sunday’s second presidential debate, he had to reverse a sharp slump in the polls and election forecasts since the first debate two weeks ago.
Negative headlines also have taken a toll – even before a leaked tape of Trump making lewd comments came out on Friday – and a strong performance by Trump’s GOP running mate Mike Pence hasn’t corrected his downward slide.
With less than 30 days until November’s Election Day, Trump only has so many chances left to convince the voters he is their best option for commander in chief. It is yet to be seen if he started that Sunday night in St. Louis.
Swing states swing back to Clinton
After dropping as low as 55 percent on the eve of the first debate, Clinton had a 81.5 percent chance of winning the election just before Sunday’s debate, according to FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast.
After a rough patch for her campaign – related to scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation, her private email server, her health and her “basket of deplorables” comment – Clinton seems to have regained her footing in several swing states.
FiveThirtyEight now gives the Democrat a 68 percent chance of winning both Florida and Nevada, 64 percent odds of winning North Carolina, a 58 percent chance in Ohio, and 54 percent odds of taking Iowa.
If she can carry off those wins, Clinton will have 346 votes in the Electoral College – far more than the 270 needed to win and similar to where the Democrat was in forecasts for much of August.
In FiveThirtyEight’s polls-plus projection, which incorporates historical and other data, Clinton’s chances of winning are slightly lower at 77 percent.
That projection gives Trump a 55 percent chance of winning Iowa and puts him within 2.2 points of winning Ohio. But that’s not enough to alter the election’s outcome.
Clinton’s post-debate rise been so strong that if the election were held today, the site gives her an 86 percent chance of victory and a 52 percent shot of carrying Arizona, too.
“Sure, if you’re a Trump fan, you can find a few data points that look a little better for you,” writes Nate Silver. “But this is not where the consensus of the evidence lies, and even Trump’s best polls aren’t all that good. In the two weeks before the debate, by contrast, about half of swing state polls showed Trump tied or ahead.”
Highest electoral number in a month
Clinton has a 4.6-point lead in the Real Clear Politics national polling average, up from only a 0.9-point lead a week before the first debate. In a four-way race, including with Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, Clinton has a 3.7-point lead.
Most polls taken since the first debate have given the Democrat a lead of between 4 and 7 points. An exception has been the Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll, which has trended toward Trump and gives the Republican a 5-point nationwide lead in its Thursday tracking poll.
Real Clear’s Electoral College projection gives Clinton 260 electoral votes from states solidly behind the Democrat or likely or leaning Democratic.
That is the highest number Clinton has had in more than a month, and 10 votes short of an outright majority.
The site moved five states – Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – into the “lean Clinton” camp in the past week. It also moved New Hampshire from “toss up” to “leans Clinton” to “toss up” again in the span of three days, before finally moving the Granite State into the Democratic column on Sunday.
Trump has continued to hover around 165 electoral votes for weeks.
On Real Clear’s “no toss-up” map, Clinton has 340 electoral votes – a 68-vote jump from two weeks earlier. That shift came as the site moved Colorado, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio and to Clinton from Trump in just the past week.
“Could cause an odd outcome”
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics has also boosted Clinton back over 300 electoral votes in his projections, after dropping her to 272 on the eve of the first debate.
Sabato moved Florida and North Carolina from the toss-up category to “leans Democratic,” and solidified Democratic leads in Colorado and Virginia.
On Monday morning, the Crystal Ball moved Nevada and Nebraska’s 2nd district from “toss up” to “leans Democratic,” and also flipped Ohio from the GOP to the Democratic column.
“Forced to choose – and we’ll eliminate all toss-ups by Election Day – we’d probably pick Clinton in both Nevada and NE-2,” Sabato writes along with the University of Virgina’s Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley. “If that’s how it worked out – the two toss-ups going to Clinton and all else on our map remaining the way it is now – Clinton would win 323-215 in the Electoral College, along the lines of Obama’s 2012 victory.”
The Crystal Ball map did, however, move Maine and New Mexico into slightly shakier Democratic ground.
“(S)ome polls have shown New Mexico close, with former Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, getting an outsized share of the vote,” the Crystal Ball writes. “Trump has a steep climb here, but perhaps a big-enough third-party vote could cause an odd outcome.”