Tuesday, October 18, 2016

State of the Race: 21 Days To Go

Post-debate laughs (photo courtesy HFA)
Hang in there folks, because there are only three weeks to go.

Three. Weeks. To. Go!

Unfortunately, it appears that the final 21 days will be among the ugliest we've yet seen. Donald Trump, losing badly, has apparently decided to burn it all down. And I'll be shocked if the final debate is any less disgusting than the one last week. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton is as steady as a rock in these dark times and the sunrise on November 9th will be glorious beyond belief.

But until then, we just gotta hang in there. Keep making calls. Keep knocking on doors. Keep convincing your friends, family and neighbors that there is only one choice for president. And, of course, vote as if your life depended on it...because it probably does!

By next week's installment of "State of the Race", early voting will have already begun in Texas. Other states have already started early voting and other states will begin shortly (see this map for more details). All this is to say that in many places in the country, the countdown to election day is already over.

And things are looking up. Here's the national HuffPost polls chart (minus the very swingy numbers from right-leaning and not highly-respected Rasmussen) since the first debate as of 5pm Tuesday:

The margin isn't much different with the Rasmussen polls added, but this shows the excellent trend much better.

But since reaching 270 is the key goal here, let's break it down state-by-state (with notes on the Senate races if applicable). For details on individual polls, see FiveThirtyEight.com:

Pennsylvania: This is really starting to look safe for Clinton, as the closest Trump has gotten in any October poll is four points. But most of these polls were in the field before the Billy Bush tape emerged and Trump's accusers stepped forward, so it's very possible that she's really leading by double digits at this point. However, the McGinty-Toomey race is still extremely close...so the Clinton campaign really can't let their foot off the gas in Pennsylvania if they want to help ensure a Democratic Senate.

New Hampshire: Clinton's definitely in the lead here as well, but the margins are more varied than what we're seeing in Pennsylvania. But again, we haven't seen much from the last ten days so it's possible that Clinton's in a safer position than she appears. The other big question in the state is whether or not Hassan can knock off Ayotte. Right now it's still apparently super-close, so we'll probably see no letup from the Clinton campaign here.

Florida: While it remains close, it's clear that Clinton has the advantage. I believe that if the election were held today, she'd win by around five points...possibly more. But there's a problem: Rubio is leading Murphy by a couple of points and the DSCC just pulled its support from the Democrat. Murphy can still win, but a couple of things probably need to happen. One, Rubio needs to somehow embarrass himself badly before election day (possible). And two, Clinton needs to win bigger than expected and have some truly amazing coattails (more possible). I hope so, because Marco is simply awful and there's no senator I'd like to see defeated more than him.

Ohio: The polls have been all over the place...perhaps more than any other top-tier state. However, Clinton has a slight edge and the superior ground game. So it wouldn't surprise me if she ends up winning by around five points. That probably won't be enough to save Strickland from losing to Portman, unfortunately...but hey, never say die!

North Carolina: Trump hasn't led in a poll there all month, and Clinton's ground operation is simply crushing it. So it's looking pretty good, though the Ross-Burr race is an absolute toss-up. This is another place where Clinton's coattails will be absolutely essential to eking out a Senate victory for the Democrats.

Nevada: Very similar story as North Carolina in both the presidential and Senate races, though there is evidence of recent surge for Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. I'm starting to feel quite optimistic about a solid Clinton win here.

Iowa: Trump has a better shot in Iowa than any other Obama 2012 state, but I'm still not betting on it. Again, it's all about the ground game. A senate pickup looks out of reach here, unfortunately.

Colorado: There's no way Trump wins this one, and the Senate race looks safe as well. Next.

Virginia: Nope. This is confirmed Clinton/Kaine country, and there's no Senate race this year.

Wisconsin: Trump isn't winning Wisconsin. However, a few recent polls have had the Feingold-Johnson race pretty close...though others haven't. We mainly just need to make sure Russ makes it back into the Senate, because how sweet would that be?

Michigan: No worries.

Arizona: Yep, it looks like Hillary might just win here by a point or two...maybe a little more now that they are bringing out the big guns (aka Michelle Obama)! The bigger question is whether or not McCain's troubled relationship with Trump will end up costing him his seat to Kirkpatrick. I'm not sure how possible that is, but wouldn't that be an awesome surprise?

Missouri: Gotta give the slight edge to Trump here, though a Clinton win wouldn't totally shock me. But what I really want is for Kander to defeat Blunt, which is starting to look quite possible! Just gotta hope the blue wave pushes him over the finish line.

Georgia: This could go either way. I truly have no idea who will win Georgia, though I am slightly optimistic. The Senate race doesn't look too promising here.

Nebraska: Clinton might just pick up a single electoral vote here, which would be nice.

Maine: Trump might just pick up a single electoral vote here, which would would be embarrassing. Don't do it, Maine!

Utah: No idea. Seriously. I have no clue who will win Utah. Which is nothing short of amazing.

Alaska: No idea here, either. But according to Nate Silver, Hillary currently has about a 35% chance of winning it. A 35% chance of a Democrat winning Alaska! Let that sink in for a second.

Indiana: If the blue wave is truly massive, I guess there's an outside chance. Evan Bayh will probably pick up that senate seat for the Democrats regardless.

South Carolina: Ditto on the presidential side, though the Senate race appears to be out of reach (though polling here has been minimal).

Texas: You really have to ask?