September 19, 2016

State of the Race - Sept 19th

I've started looking at the state by state polling for the swing states.  Interestingly some of them don't have much recent polling (beyond August, or early September) and a lot has happened in the last two weeks.  But as it stands, in a 2 way race and assigning even margin of error states to who looks to be reasonably ahead, I currently have Hillary Clinton winning the electoral college 293-245.

Tenuous

But despite the 48 electoral college vote lead, her grasp is tenuous.  Several states fall into true toss up status even though she currently enjoys a lead.  Among those most interesting Nevada (6) has as it's most recent polling Trump winning. Wisconsin (10) has a comfortable lead for Clinton in the RealClearPolitics average of polls - as of August 28th.  Those polls really need a refresh. Colorado (9)  had a sliding trend with a Clinton lead in August.  The only September poll has Trump ahead by 4 but with a 3.9% margin of error. North Carolina (15) had different polls showing both candidates ahead, even at the same time, in August.  It's a true dog fight in that state.  The only September poll has it as a tie. I'd rate it right now as the 'tossiest' of toss up races.  Maine's 2nd CD, a single proportional electoral college vote appears to be safely Trump's even though Clinton will win the other votes from the state.  Maine is one of 2 states that allocates an electoral college vote proportionally. That's a flip from my last prediction where I had unwittingly allocated it to Clinton.

States more likely to remain faithful to their histories

Arizona looks like a toss up but is looking more to me like it will remain Republican and Trump will prevail.  So too the race in georgia; it should shake out for Trump. Trump has recovered from a Florida swoon in August and the state has been trending his way all September - he's now ahead and the trend appears to be unfinished.  Iowa seems to have broken for Trump. The two polls from August 31st onward have him ahead by 5 and 8 points. In Ohio, despite the refusal of a scorned Kasich to help Trump, only 1 poll in the last 6 has Hillary ahead of Trump in the crucial state - by 7 points. Every other recent poll has Trump ahead by as little as 1 and as much as 5.  Ohio has broken for Trump it would appear.

Pennsylvania is looking likely to be a relatively safe hold for the Democrats and Clinton.  So too is Virginia - the race there is tightening but she's still got about a 3 point lead and a VP candidate from the state. I'd be surprised at this point if Trump were to win it. New Hampshire still looks like a Clinton hold too. The trend is running towards toss up but she still leads.  And while Michigan still looks like Clinton is favored, the trend line is not favoring her and the state could be in jeopardy for her.  A poll with a Trump lead in Michigan in the next week would throw the entire race into chaos because Michigan is supposed to be safely Democrat.  But with Ford closing plants in Michigan and moving production to Mexico, such a poll is a real possibility as the trend line preceded Ford's announcement.

Other considerations

I haven't yet started analyzing the 4 way races with Johnson and Stein factored in, as I think their numbers will fall as we close in on election day.  Nevertheless, they do merit a review, which I will do soon.

Additionally, the debates are rapidly approaching.  Aside from 'events' (e.g. an email problem, a major verbal gaffe, a terrorist attack) the debates are the biggest remaining factor - even bigger than a coming Clinton ad bombardment in swing states, though if not countered by Trump or Republican SuperPACs, those will matter too).  The debates are live and could easily swing the campaign either way.

Summary

As I mentioned, currently I have Hillary Clinton winning the electoral college 293-245.  But 4 tenuous states do have the potential to flip the winner.  If Nevada, Wisconsin, North cArolina and Colorado all flip, Trump would win 285-253.  And that is within the realm of possibility.  And if North Carolina and Wisconsin flip but Colorado and Nevada don't, Trump could still win 270-268.  And even more bizarrely, if we switch Colorado for Trump and Wisconsin back to Hillary, we'd have a 269-269 tie.  In that case, Trump would win.

So it's still very, very tight and getting tighter by the day right now.  It's going to be an interesting next 6 weeks.
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