Here is where we stand on the eve of the second presidential debate based upon the average of recent polling, compared to where the election stood just before the first debate on September 26
Trump has 197 electoral votes (solid, likely or leaning) just like before the first debate.
Four states with a total of 68 electoral votes remain toss-ups:
Clinton has 273 electoral votes (solid, likely, or leaning), that’s the same as before the first debate, although six of the nine forecasters we are tracking now give Clinton a better than 60% chance of winning Florida. If we move Florida into Clinton’s column, here solid, likely and leaning total would reach 302 electoral votes
For Trump to reach 270 electoral votes and win, he needs to:
- Win ALL of the toss-up states, including Florida that is trending Clinton now, and
- Win at least one of the states that are leaning Clinton.
Trump is now leading, but within the margin of error, in Ohio and is ahead by 5 points on average in Iowa (just outside the 4 pt margin or error). Clinton is now ahead, but only barely, in the other 3 toss up states. Trump had a slight lead in these states before the first debate.
To win, Trump must capture at least one of the states leaning to Clinton. He can't get to 270 with just the toss-up states. The most likely Clinton states for Trump to target are:
Michigan 15 Evs--Clinton has a 7 pt average lead now. The latest poll has her up by 11 pts.
Wisconsin 10 Evs—Clinton has a 5 pt average lead now. The latest poll has her up by 7 pts.
Colorado 9 Evs—Clinton has a 3.3 pt average lead now. Two recent polls have her up by 11 pts.
Pennsylvania 20 Eves—Clinton has a 6 pt. average lead now. The latests polls have her up by 9 to 10 pts.
Trump’s best chance of taking one of these states is Colorado, where Clinton leads, but only by an average of 3.3 pts. Her lead there before the last debate was just 1.5 pts, which was well within the margin of error, so she has gained ground in Colorado since the debate.
As things stand now, if Trump takes Colorado along with Ohio, NC, NV and FL he will win with 274 Evs. but that may be difficult for him to achieve.
In my last post, I said Trump needed to expand his lead in Ohio, NC, NV, and Fl and overtake Clinton in Colorado to get to a win. He needed a bump from the first debate to get there. That didn’t happen. In fact, post-first debate, Clinton has gained ground.
If Trump is to have a chance of winning, he needs a much better performance in the debate on this coming Sunday. Trump has to hold off any further gains for Clinton in Florida and reverse the trend in Colorado, if that is what it is, that has cropped up in two recent Colorado polls showing her up 9 to 10 pts. Trump doesn’t have much time. We are closing in on 4 weeks to the election and early voting has already started.
Recall what I said in an earlier post about the importance of October 11th (next Tuesday) which is 21 days before the election. Historically, the polls are off no more than 3.6 points 21 days before the election. Right now, Clinton is up an average of 4.1 pts over Trump. If she holds on to that lead or improves it, after Sunday’s debate, it is highly unlikely that Trump will have enough time to close the polling gap to win. Check the polls next Tuesday and particularly late next week when the post-debate polls start coming in. If Clinton is maintaining her current lead, that’s good. If she gets as second debate bounce of 1 to 2 points, that will be fantastic and a really good sign.
NOTE: The first debate had an impact, but not much of one.
In my last post, I said that 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/
This year, we saw a slightly less change. Clinton won the debate and improved her lead by slightly less than 2 pts. (46.2 before the debate to 48.1 now) Trump’s average improved 0.7 pts from 43.2 to 43.9.
Check It Out:
See the following for current polling averages and forecasts, particularly the NY Times site for a comparison of projections from eight different forecasters.
Check out projections from fivethirtyeight.com here: