We’ve reached a very unexpected turn in this election. Not that Trump is leading — that’s big news and it is unexpected after Hillary’s big convention bounce, but he led briefly after his own convention in July. What’s very unexpected is that Republican senators in battleground states are also more competitive than most thought they would be. The latest Quinnipiac polls show the GOP has a real shot to retain majority control of the Senate year (albeit with a reduced majority). Which is to say, there’s a nonzero chance at this point that Republicans will have total control of government next year. How’s that to spice up the drama of President Trump trying to do business with Paul Ryan? The GOP might be in a position to pass anything it likes, assuming Mitch McConnell is willing to nuke the filibuster. Who gets to set the agenda in that scenario?
The CNN polls were only in the field until Monday, a day after Hillary’s swoon, so reaction to her fainting spell might not be fully priced in yet. His lead might actually get bigger before the debates. Against all odds, Democrats found themselves a nominee who really might be capable of losing to this guy. Maybe I should stop comparing her to Bill Buckner and start comparing her to an even lamer Boston figure who botched an easy win: Hillary might be the Martha Coakley of the 2016 election. Good lord.
Among likely voters in Ohio, Trump stands at 46% to Clinton’s 41%, with 8% behind Libertarian Gary Johnson and 2% behind Green Party nominee Jill Stein. In Florida, likely voters split 47% for Trump to 44% for Clinton, within the poll’s 3.5 percentage point margin of error, and with 6% behind Johnson and 1% backing Stein.
In both states, Trump’s support increases as a result of the likely voter screen, among all registered voters, Clinton edges Trump 45% to 44% in Florida, and in Ohio, Trump tops Clinton 43% to 39% with Johnson at 12%…
And although the wide gap by education among whites that’s emerged in most polling on this contest continues here (Clinton’s support lands below 30 percent among those whites who do not have college degrees, while the race is closer among whites with degrees), Trump does hold an edge among whites with college degrees in both states; he’s up 9 points among that group in Ohio and 8 points in Florida…
One big difference this time between younger and older voters: Support for Gary Johnson. In both states, Johnson reaches double-digits among those voters under age 45 who say they are likely to turn out, while he gets low-single-digit support among older voters.
If you follow polling day to day, you know why each of those results is a big deal. The key question right now as pollsters screen for likely voters is whether the Obama coalition will turn out for Hillary and whether irregular white voters — “undercover Trump voters” — will show up for Trump. CNN sees a redder electorate right now, obviously, given that Trump’s numbers are growing as they shift from registered to likely voters. That’s in line with traditional expectations, in which Republicans tend to do better among likely voters, but that wasn’t a sure thing this year. Earlier this summer various polls showed Clinton doing slightly better among likely voters than she did among registereds, a sign of Trump’s weakness at the time in motivating his base. The bigger news here, though, is Trump erasing Clinton’s advantage with white college grads and turning them back into Republican voters, as they’ve been for decades. White college grads have been killing Trump in poll after poll by tilting towards Clinton, which, combined with her nonwhite support, gave her a weak but steady lead. Now, with educated whites shifting towards Trump, Clinton has less margin for error in getting Obama’s fans to turn out.
She’s not getting it done because of younger voters, something Chuck Todd noted yesterday and which I elaborated on last night. Young adults are too ambivalent about Clinton and too keen on Gary Johnson to give her the same sort of cushion that Obama enjoyed four years ago. Obama won the under-45 group by double digits in Florida and Ohio in 2012, notes CNN, but Hillary leads by just six in FL and is running even(!!) with Trump in OH. Johnson is peeling off critical parts of the left’s twentysomething base. And it’s not just showing up in the CNN poll: Quinnipiac has a new national poll out this afternoon with this eye-popping result among young voters.
The topline numbers from Quinnipiac aren’t great for Trump, as he’s down five head-to-head with Clinton and down two in the four-way race, but that result among young voters should encourage him. Head to head, Clinton leads him 55/34 among that group, a 21-point advantage. Throw Johnson and Jill Stein into the mix and she collapses to 31 percent, just two points ahead of Johnson(!!!) with Stein a fairly strong fourth at 15 percent. If Democrats don’t figure something out to get young Bernie fans back in the fold, soon, she could actually blow this election. By November 1st, Democrats might be running ads consisting of nothing more a minute of flashing text: “YOUNG PEOPLE YOU ARE GOING TO ELECT THE RACIST.”
One more note, purely as a reality check. Even if you toss Ohio and Florida into Trump’s column, he still facing — for the moment — the heartbreak of this electoral map.
This map looks rather interesting right now… pic.twitter.com/awdpOs1hQf
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) September 14, 2016
Flipping any single battleground state there from blue to red would give Trump the presidency. A poll out today showed him leading in Colorado, but most polls there and in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire show her ahead fairly comfortably. It’s probably the case that if Trump really is strong enough to lead by five in Ohio, as two different polls today have showed today, and to lead in Florida, as three different surveys this month have indicated, he’ll peel off another battleground somewhere and win. Don’t rule out the map above, though. The blue wall is formidable.
Here’s our next president playing to the crowd about his health on a dubious medical show, P.T. Barnum-style.