Here is where we stand on the eve of the first presidential debate based upon the average of recent polling.
Trump has 197 electoral votes (states solid, likely or leaning toward Trump).
Four states with a total of 64 electoral votes are pure toss-ups:
Clinton has 273 electoral votes (solid, likely, or leaning toward Clinton). In other words, Clinton goes into the first debate with enough electoral votes to win the election if it was held today. Clinton would have 341 electoral votes if she won the toss-up states.
For Trump to reach 270 electoral votes and win, he needs to:
- Win ALL of the toss-up states AND
- Win at least one of the states that are currently leaning toward Clinton.
Trump is now leading, but within the margin of error, in all of the toss-up states. FL is essentially tied (Trump ahead 0.1) and Trump is barely ahead in Ohio (+1.8), NC (+1.8), and NV (+2.3).
To win, Trump must capture at least one of the states leaning to Clinton even if he wins ALL of the toss-up States. These Clinton-leaning states are:
Michigan 15 Evs
Wisconsin 10 Evs
Colorado 9 Evs
Pennsylvania 20 eves.
Clinton is leading Trump by 4.6 or more points in all of these stares except Colorado, where she leads Trump, by an average of 1.5 electoral votes, which is within the margin of error . Right now, Trump’s best chance of taking one of these states Clinton-leading states away from Clinton is probably Colorado.
As things stand now, if Trump takes Colorado and holds on to it until the election along with Ohio, NC, NV and FL and the states where he is currently ahead, he will win with 274 Evs.
Watch the polls in these key states over the next week. If Trump’s lead improves in Ohio, NC, NV, and Fl and/or he overtakes Clinton in Colorado, then he may be getting a bump from the first debate that would be a bad sign for Clinton.
If, on the other hand, Clinton takes the lead over the next week in one or more of the toss-up states and/or expands her lead in Colorado, then that is a good sign that Trump hurt himself in the first debate and/or that Clinton did better than expected--A good sign for Clinton.
NOTE: The first debate CAN have an impact in changing the polls, although it is usually not huge. In the last eleven elections, the first debates have resulted in a change of plus or minus about 3 points in the national polls with a couple of exceptions (1976 and 2004 where the national numbers moved 13.8 and 6.2 respectively but there were reasons for these outliers. See Larry Sabato’s explanation for more: http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/do-debates-matter/
See the following for current polling averages and forecasts, particularly the NY Times site for a comparison of projections from eight different forecasters.