New NBC/WSJ/Marist polls
CO: HRC 46, Trump 32 (+14)
FL: HRC 44, Trump 39 (+5)
NC: HRC 48, Trump 39 (+9)
VA: HRC 46, Trump 33 (+13)
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) August 12, 2016
He’s at 32-33 percent head to head in Colorado and Virginia, two states that George W. Bush won twice. In the four-way race, he’s at 31 percent in Virginia and 29 percent in Colorado. Clinton has increased her lead in all four states since July. Somewhere Reince is huffing paint.
The bombshell number, though, is North Carolina. Let’s go back to that electoral map from the other night:
If every state that’s leaning blue in the RCP average here went blue on Election Day, Hillary would start with 256 electoral votes, just 14 from victory. Knowing that, you can see instantly why blowouts in Colorado and Virginia are important to her. The 22 electoral votes she gets from them means she doesn’t need to worry about Ohio’s 18. All she needs is one other mid-sized or large toss-up state: Florida, Michigan (where she’s led by nine and 10 points, respectively, in the last two polls), or North Carolina would put her over the top. Obama won North Carolina in 2008 but Romney clawed it back narrowly, the only blue state from 2008’s landslide that ended up turning red in 2012. Winning NC would mean that Hillary could afford to lose Ohio and Florida and still win the election. In fact, if Clinton wins Michigan and North Carolina, she’d have a fair shot at winning the election even if she dropped Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, the trifecta Trump is searching for as his path to victory. If you take Pennsylvania out of her column on the map, she starts with 236 electoral votes. Adding Michigan and North Carolina would give her 267. Adding either Iowa or Nevada on top of that would give her the presidency. Obviously all of that is complicated by the fact that swing states move in lockstep to some extent: If Trump comes back strongly enough to hit the trifecta, odds are he’ll be strong enough to win North Carolina, Iowa, and maybe Nevada too. You see the basic point, though. Right now the greater mystery in the election isn’t how many Rust Belt states he’ll win but how many southern states he’ll lose.
Speaking of which, here’s a new poll of Georgia from Breitbart. If you’re still entertaining the theory that the polls are uniformly skewed against Trump, consider the fact that even a survey sponsored by an outlet that’s famously favorable to him is seeing a jump ball in what’s supposed to be a reliably red state.
Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, holds a 1-point lead over Democrat Hillary R. Clinton in Georgia, according to a Breitbart/Gravis poll conducted Aug. 4 through Aug. 8 of 1,604 registered voters in that state.
“Trump is in a precarious position,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based firm that executed the poll for Breitbart News. The New York City developer leads the former first lady 45 percent to 44 percent in the poll, he said. The poll was conducted using automated phone calls with online responses and carries a 2.5 percent margin of error.
“Trump has shown strong support in states that have been considered locks for the Democrats and has had trouble in states that have been considered locked down as Republican, such as Georgia,” he said.
The last five polls of the state have had Trump by one point and four points, Clinton by four points and seven points, and a dead heat at 45 percent. Breitbart’s result is right in line with the basic conclusion from all of that, which is that the state is tight and could go either way. It’s also in line with the latest poll from South Carolina, a state demographically similar to Georgia, where the race also looks to be surprisingly tight. And if traditionally solid red states like South Carolina and Georgia are now toss-ups, it stands to reason that a traditional southern toss-up like North Carolina is leaning comfortably blue at the moment. That’s exactly what WSJ/NBC sees here. One problem for Trump is that he continues to perform more poorly with his own party than Clinton does with hers, winning just 79-80 percent of Republicans in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia. Even if you gave Trump the same number of Rs as Clinton has among Ds, though, he’s still getting blown out in CO and VA.
The more numbers like this there are over the next month, the more media coverage is going to shift to the Senate races. Republicans have been holding their own in those despite Trump’s difficulties, but maybe that’s starting to change:
Ron Johnson is an all but certain goner in Wisconsin, where Trump is taking a beating. The only post-convention poll of New Hampshire had Trump down 17(!) to Clinton and Kelly Ayotte, who had been neck and neck against Maggie Hassan in mid-July, suddenly down 10. Pat Toomey is running admirably well in Pennsylvania, just a few points behind Katie McGinty in a state where Trump is consistently 10 points behind Clinton, but he’s been behind in four straight polls now. Flip those three seats and Richard Burr’s per the graphic above and you have a 50/50 Senate, with Tim Kaine the deciding vote if Hillary wins in November. If you assume Mark Kirk is also a goner in deep blue Illiinois, which is also a safe bet, it’s 51/49 Democrats and you don’t even need Kaine. No wonder rich Republicans are starting to pour money into the downballot races. If this gets worse, they may have to start cutting big checks to Paul Ryan and the NRCC to try to protect the House.
Update: Whoops, my mistake. North Carolina wasn’t the only blue state in 2008 that flipped to red in 2012. Indiana did as well. Trump should have no trouble holding that one this time with Mike Pence on the ticket.