Things were going so well.
Since the middle of May, the campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were going in completely opposite directions.
Clinton finally fought off Bernie Sanders and wrapped up her party’s nomination, and just about every poll, nationwide and in battleground states, was moving in her direction.
Trump on the other hand saw his brief bump in the polls evaporate after stepping in it, again, by attacking the Mexican heritage of a respected judge hearing the lawsuit against Trump University, and his self congratulatory response to the terror attack in Orlando. Republican leadership in Washington strongly condemned him and questioned his seriousness as a candidate, and the #NeverTrump movement started to regain some short-lived momentum.
Those days seem like a long time ago if you were to listen to some in the Democratic Party. The panic came to a head on Wednesday when Quinnipiac released three polls showing Donald Trump overtaking Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania, and tying her in Ohio. Panic then carried over into Thursday after a CBS/New York Times Poll showed the two candidates deadlocked at 40% nationally; Clinton led by six points in the same poll taken last month.
Let me start by saying what is obvious. Clinton’s slide in the polls directly coincides with the bad press she has received regarding her private email server. Yes, Clinton avoided criminal charges, but the good news stops there.
If FBI Director James Comey had come out and said Clinton made a stupid mistake with her server but corroborated the rest of her story, it would be one thing. Unfortunately for Clinton, Comey told the country that while Clinton did nothing illegal, her overall explanation into her server was bullshit. And quite frankly, her explanation was exactly that.
After news of the story broke, when I said the details of the private server story didn’t matter because it reinforced a narrative of shadiness and dishonesty people had about Clinton, a lot of people dismissed it out of hand. Well now we are seeing the results in the polling. Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness numbers have fallen even further than they were before Comey’s public rebuke of her. The CBS Poll shows 67% of Americans do not feel like they can trust her.
Now, despite all of the doom and gloom, not all is lost for Clinton. Far from it, in fact.
She has taken a hit, but if there was ever a time to take one, it is now. We are going into a two week period where both candidates will select running mates and both parties will have their conventions. The news cycle is relegating her email issues to the back burner; at least in the short term.
Despite two weeks of awful press coverage, Clinton still does lead in most national polls and in the important battleground states. The Quinnipiac Polls, at least for right now, look like outliers, not a trend.
Shortly after the Quinnipiac numbers came out, NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist released polls showing Clinton up by nine in Pennsylvania, while showing Ohio knotted up. An aggregate of the polls still show Clinton with leads, on average, in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Additional polls released over the last two days show Clinton with solid leads in Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, Iowa, and Wisconsin. She also still leads in just about every national poll released over the last two weeks.
On top of all of that, NBC News just released four battleground state polls this morning showing Clinton ahead of Trump by eight in Colorado, seven in Florida, six in North Carolina, and nine in Virginia.
Another thing to note is that the polls are narrowing almost exclusively because of Clinton’s support slipping. Trump has hardly moved in any of these polls and is still consistently sitting in the high 30s to low 40s, even in polls signaling good news for him.
Finally, don’t forget the built in advantage Democrats have in the electoral college. Right now, Clinton is in the position where all she has to do is hold on to the states Al Gore won in 2000, pick up Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia, states where she currently leads, and she will have 281 electoral votes, and the presidency. So even if Trump wins Florida and Ohio in this situation, he still loses.
Yes, some of the polls have narrowed a little bit and a few look bad for Clinton. And yet, considering the fact this has arguably been the worst two weeks of her campaign, she still maintains her edge in national polling and in the important battleground states. The folks over at FiveThirtyEight still have Clinton with a 65% chance to win the White House with a map identical to Obama’s 2012 victory.
This is not to say Democrats should be complacent either. Voters who are moving away from Clinton are in the undecided column right now; which means she has given Trump an opportunity to win them over. If Trump can somehow make them comfortable with the prospects of him being president, he has a real shot at this thing.
If not, this will prove to be just a blip on the radar for Clinton on her way to becoming the 45th President of the United States. Don’t start looking for houses in Canada just yet.