Now that both parties have wrapped up their conventions, the general election campaign is officially under way. With just over three months left until Election Day, now is a good time to see where things stand in the race for the White House.
Anybody half paying attention to the news these days knows that Donald Trump is losing to Hillary Clinton right now. Badly.
It is also pretty clear that Clinton received a huge bounce from her convention, as you can tell.
A few factors explain her spike in the polls. The most important being the consolidation of Bernie Sanders voters behind her candidacy. A CNN poll shows her getting the support of 91% of Sanders voters in a two-way race, up from 78% in their previous poll; and she gets 69% of his voters when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are included. This too is an increase from the last poll when 64% of Sanders supporters said they would vote for her.
In addition to uniting the party, Clinton improved her standing among Independents, white voters, and men; voting blocs Trump is banking on to flip rust belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
And of course, the other reason Clinton is rising in the polls is because Trump (still) cannot stop shooting himself in the foot. There is no need to rehash everything, but I will say the controversies, somehow, are getting worse.
Add it all up and you have Clinton ahead in every recent poll; from a one point lead in a USC/LA Times survey that has skewed heavily in Trump’s favor all year, to a 15 point margin in a McClatchy/Marist poll released yesterday afternoon. Clinton has an average lead of 6.8% on RealClearPolitics, where every poll counted has been conducted since the Democratic Convention ended last Thursday. Her lead falls slightly to 6.6% when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are included.
In the HuffPost Pollster model, which is an aggregate of every poll taken in this race, Clinton has an average lead of seven points. So however you slice it, her lead right now resembles President Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain in 2008.
Over the last week, we have seen Clinton’s national lead carry into a number of key swing states as well.
Since last Thursday, two polls out of Pennsylvania, one from Public Policy Polling and another from Franklin and Marshall College, show Clinton with leads of three and 11 points, respectively. And a Suffolk poll released during the Democratic Convention had her leading Trump by nine.
Florida tells a similar story. A Suffolk poll released yesterday has Trump trailing Clinton by six points, 48% to 42%. This is the only poll taken since last Thursday, so far, so we’ll have to wait for a few more to see if she has a solid lead here. Either way it is not a good sign for Trump who had been running neck and neck with Clinton in Florida leading up to their conventions.
For Trump to have any chance of winning in November, he needs to carry both Pennsylvania and Florida. A loss in just one of the two means it’s game over for him.
If the polls from two states he must win were not bad enough, similar results were released from two other states he is hoping to pick off; New Hampshire and Michigan. Michigan hasn’t really been close all year so the fact that he is down nine points there isn’t surprising.
Being down 15 in New Hampshire on the other hand, is pretty shocking, even if it is just one poll.
To add a little more insult to injury, Clinton’s lead (15 points) in the latest survey from the swing state of New Hampshire survey is larger than Trump’s lead in the solid red state of Kentucky (13 points), a state Mitt Romney won by 23 percentage points in 2012. Needless to say, if on Election Day, Trump is struggling to clear a double digit margin of victory in a state like Kentucky, it will be a pretty clear indication he is in for a long night.
Clinton’s camp also seems to be feeling pretty confident in states like Colorado and Virginia. Her campaign is pulling some advertising from each state, suggesting they may be out of reach for Trump.
And the numbers back this up. Right now she is leading by just over five in Virginia, with Tim Kaine likely to help add another point or two as her running mate. In Colorado, Clinton is in even better shape where he holds about a 10 point lead.
This is important for a couple of reasons. One, it significantly narrows Trump’s path to 270.
Two, it allows her to expand the map and forces Trump’s campaign to play defense in what should be pretty solid red states like Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. Clinton has led in some of the more recent polls in North Carolina, and is within striking distance in the other two.
Clinton is riding a wave of momentum coming out of a very successful convention, and has been further assisted by a week’s worth of awful press for Donald Trump. That said, don’t be surprised if her lead in the national polls and a couple of these battleground states come back to earth as we get further away from the conventions. It is highly unlikely Clinton will win the nationwide popular vote or New Hampshire by double digits.
We’ll see how everything plays out over the next couple of weeks. If Clinton’s national and battleground state leads heading into Labor Day are even remotely close to where they are now, it is hard to see how Trump can overcome such a deficit, barring something catastrophic happening to the Clinton campaign.
Then again, this is Hillary Clinton. Just last week she told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace that FBI Director James Comey exonerated her and confirmed she was being truthful in her explanations about her email server.
Yea, no. He didn’t. Comey said Clinton didn’t do anything illegal but he certainly did not confirm any truthfulness in her explanations. In fact he did just the opposite, saying in a press conference and a Congressional hearing that Clinton’s story was far from accurate.
Clinton is no Donald Trump when it comes to self-inflicted wounds, but her interview with Chris Wallace last Sunday shows she is not exactly immune to them either. Thankfully for her, Trump’s feuds with the parents of a dead solider and crying babies dominated the news cycle. Otherwise we would be talking about her latest email server whopper instead of her post-DNC momentum.
Things look good for Clinton right now. But a three month gap between now and Election Day is an eternity.