Since the first debate between the her and Donald Trump on September 26, Hillary Clinton has rebuilt her lead over him to where it had been in the early part of August in national and swing state polls. At that time, she had a five to six point lead nationally, and had built up solid leads in a number of swing states. She was also competitive in traditionally red states like Georgia, Arizona, and even South Carolina in some cases.
In the lead up to their first debate, her lead had all but evaporated and several swing states thought to be safely in her column started to tighten as well. Then the debate happened. And if that and the subsequent bad polling for Trump wasn’t bad enough to scare Republicans, the leaked 2005 tape of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women certainly was.
Today, panic in Republican circles is at full tilt. A new NBC News poll just out today shows Hillary Clinton trouncing Donald Trump by 11 points in a four-way race, and an unheard of 14 points (52% to 38%) in a head to head race. The floodgates have officially opened, folks.
Here is the thing though, it might get even worse. While Trump was slightly more on message with his attacks against Clinton last night, scientific polls taken by CNN and YouGov after the debate shows voters viewed Clinton as the winner.
Trump is also likely to bleed some more Republican support after his widely panned, and blatant dismissal of his running mate during last night’s discussion on Syria. Just today, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he will no longer defend or campaign for Trump; choosing to focus on down ballot races instead in an effort to preserve GOP majorities in the House and Senate. Though it should one again be noted that he STILL has not withdrawn his endorsement of his party’s nominee.
Another thing to consider is the fact that more and more tapes of Trump making similarly crude comments about women are very likely to come out from now until Election Day. They will reach an over-saturation level at some point, but if a few more do in fact come out, his numbers are likely to drop even further.
In light of these recent poll numbers, and the likelihood of other polls at least coming close to confirming the NBC margin today, Republicans are now in real danger of losing the House. There were rumblings of this being a small possibility while Clinton was in the middle of her post-convention rise in the polls, but as long as her margins hovered around Obama 2008 levels, which was seven points, the chances of the House flipping were very remote. If Clinton wins this thing by anything close to 14 points, all of Paul Ryan’s focus in the world on down ballot races won’t save his party’s hold on the House.
Not to make the obvious point here, but a Clinton margin of victory this large greatly expands the electoral map too. Swing states are determined, in large part, by how close they vote relative to the nation as a whole. For example, President Obama carried Virginia by a 51% to 47% margin in 2012, the exact same as his nationwide margin of victory. This, obviously, means Virginia voted right in line with the national average that year.
With that in mind, here are the traditionally red states who’s vote margins, on average, were less than or equal to R+14 since 2004:
- Arizona (R+4)
- Georgia (R+4)
- Missouri (R+8)
- South Carolina (R+8)
- Mississippi (R+10)
- Alaska (R+11)
- Indiana (R+11)
- Texas (R+12)
- Louisiana (R+13)
- Montana (R+14)
- Nebraska (R+14)
Clinton certainly will not win all of these states if the NBC numbers hold. But she will absolutely pick off a number of them.
Call me crazy, but I am still not ready to call this election over. If the 2014 governor’s race here in Maryland taught me anything, it was to not count my chickens before they hatch. But I am as close as I can be to doing just that in light of today’s developments.
I know it is not particularly wise to over analyze one poll, but this one confirms what private pollsters from both parties have been saying since the first debate; that they were seeing Trump’s number falling even more dramatically in their internal polls than they were in the one’s released to the public.
The electoral wipe out many Republicans feared when Trump first won the nomination is closer than ever to becoming a reality.