A month ago Democrats were feeling very cocky about Hillary Clinton's chances in the November election. Things were going their way; Hillary had a nice lead in nearly every national poll and was doing well in state polls. Writing in the New York Times Nate Cohn asked "Is It Over?" Does Hillary have it in the bag? MSNBC speculated that Republicans were feeling a "sense of dread."
Oh how quick things change! Hiding Hillary's obvious health problems fueled negative impressions about her candidacy already dogged by the impression she lied about Benghazi, lied about her emails and now lies about her health. It's no wonder that poll after poll, like the recent Quinnipiac shows most Americans don't trust her or that a recent CNN poll shows they trust Trump more.
Now in mid-September the New York Times takes a new tone with an article titled "Hillary Clinton’s Backers Thought She Couldn’t Lose. Now, ‘I Can’t Go There.’" Desperate Democrats were interviewed at New York City hot spot Zabar's Deli in which the impression of being "overwhelmed by a tsunami of unease," seemed to be the prevailing sentiment.
Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times recalls this conversation from 2008: “I’ve known Hillary for many years, ever since she came to Arkansas,” former Sen. Dale Bumpers told me. “She’ll find a way to screw it up. She always does.”
Here's the latest average of national polling from Real Clear Politics:
Conflicting results from the two major tracking polls confuse the issue. NBC Survey Monkey tracking poll gives Hillary the edge by five points. But LA Times tracker shows Trump up by five.
|LA Times tracking poll.|
Hillary Retains Electoral College Advantage
Hillary starts the contest to win individual states with a definite advantage. Real Clear Politics (RCP)Electoral College Map forecasts her with 200 electoral votes compared to 164 for Trump. You need 270 to win. RCP let's users do their own calculations and create their own map.
The L.A. Times map has fewer toss up states than the RCP map and forecasts the likely outcome being 279 for Hillary and 191 for Trump. I believe Trump has a good chance to win the tossup states of Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida on the Times' map but that would still leave him short of 270.
|L.A. Times Electoral College Map gives Hillary advantage.|
Hillary has Superior Ground Game
In a close election, what puts you over the finish line is having the organization on the ground in key states to get your voters registered and make sure they get to early voting centers, vote by absentee ballot or show up on election day. It's no secret that Democrats, starting with Obama in 2008 have invested a huge amount of money in key states to make that happen.
Hillary Clinton's campaign has a significant money advantage over Trump. And she's spending it. Forget the campaign ads, look how Hillary outpsends Trump in key states on staff to register and get those voters to the polls. Here's the graphic from a PBS NewsHour study of campaign spending:
Want to know what difference this makes? Read this from Evan Halper in the L.A. Times:
Hillary Clinton is using her fundraising dominance to unleash all manner of modern voter tools that Donald Trump’s organization is too cash-poor, disorganized or uninterested in to use — but are they worth the massive price tag?Read the entire article. One political scientist estimates that this ground game gives Hillary a 3 point advantage in key states similar to what we have seen in other close elections. This is NOT something that should be dismissed lightly. Yes, states Trump needs to win have seen a surge in new GOP voter registrations but how many more are being left out because the Trump campaign organization fails to registered them in time? Two of Trump's own children, Eric and Ivanka, failed to vote for their father in the New York primary because they were not registered before the deadline.
Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, once described this part of the campaign as an elite “field goal unit” there to push the team over the top in a close race. Obama would probably have lost Florida in both his presidential races without a superior “ground game.” And in 2008, research suggests he would have been defeated in North Carolina and Indiana, too.
Clinton is pouring money — from a war chest expected to grow to $1 billion by election day — into a massive push to find and motivate voters who might have even the slightest inclination to vote for her. Since April, Clinton’s team has sent thousands of volunteers to dozens of field offices in crucial swing states and armed them with software designed to get voters invested in casting ballots. The programs compose personalized follow-up emails and texts from the canvasser, catered to the specific interests of the voters they chat up.
First Debate Monday, September 26
Debates may decide the race. If Trump can outshine Hillary he may fuel the enthusiasm his campaign needs to overwhelm the Clinton voter machine. If the debates are a tie, or Hillary is a clear winner then the ground game will decide the key states needed to win.
Here's the debate schedule.
The bottom line is that Hillary's strong financial, electoral map and ground game gives her a clear advantage. Trump would have to win all the tossup states plus one stronger Hillary state in order to win. A strong debate performance may help Trump overcome these disadvantages but it's going to be a hard uphill climb!