Note: I'll be on air live Thursday morning in the 8 o'clock hour with AM Savannah host Bill Edwards. Listen live here.
Last week it was Democrat panic time in the days leading up to the first presidential debate. But after Monday's performance the big question is has Hillary's slide stopped or not? It's clear Trump failed to take advantage of the opportunity to reach voters who previously have not been paying attention in the record setting viewership debate.
Lester Holt, the moderator of the debate, repeatedly challenged Trump but failed to challenge Hillary. As columnist Byron York said "The Clinton team wanted to distract him, to keep him on topics that hurt him — and away from topics that hurt her. They succeeded." And they had a ready accomplice in the moderator.
If Trump had made a stronger case instead of getting sucked into a discussion of his business dealings and other matters that pale in comparison to the grave issues at stake we might be having an altogether different discussion today. But we are not.
Hillary Retains Lead
Note that we do not yet have a full set of polls, nationally or in states that reflect the debate so the following discussion is predicated on conditions that existed prior to the event.
In the Real Clear Politics average of national presidential polls the gap between Trump and Hillary which was less than a point ten days ago is now 3 points. No great amount but let's follow later polls to see where the trend takes us.
Besides, it's the state by state races that matter when deciding the winner. Over the last few weeks there has been clear movement towards Trump in key states. Some which had previously been leaning towards Hillary are now tossups.
Forecasting website Five Thirty Eight updated their map on Wednesday with this prediction:
|Election forecast from Five Thirty Eight continues to show Hillary with strong advantage.|
Pay special attention in the map above to the states outlined in black. Each retains their status as a tossup which could go either way but some are more tossup than others. The following chart lists Real Clear Politics (RCP) polling averages in key states and 538 forecast. Click the link on individual results to study polling results and forecast in greater detail. Also note the results from three previous presidential elections:
|Will Trump's spike in Pennsylvania|
If that trend continues and Trump wins Pennsylvania then it's likely Hillary will lose the election and lose big. But consider the history of Pennsylvania voters in previous presidential elections. No Republican candidate for President has won Pennsylvania since 1988.
Hillary Retains Organizational Advantage
It's the superior ground game with a huge Democrat advantage in field staff and headquarters in key states that has enabled them to win close elections in key states. Unless Trump is up by more than 3 points in key states I would be very reluctant to say he was safe in those states. Keep the following graphic in mind as we approach election day. It illustrates the advantage Hillary has in registering new voters and getting them to the polls:
Take the initiative and make sure your friends, family and associates are registered. Especially if they live in the key states above. Many states allow online registration but the deadline is fast approaching. Don't wait until it is too late!