“Trump’s best hope,” writes Quinnipiac assistant director Peter Brown, “is a knockout win in the last debate Wednesday evening, his last shot at a national audience.” The latest battleground-state polling from Quinnipiac bears out that analysis. In four key states, independent voters have shifted support in significant numbers to Hillary Clinton, leaving Donald Trump trailing in three states and tied in Ohio in the four-way race:
Independent likely voters shift to Democrat Hillary Clinton, giving her the lead over Republican Donald Trump in the critical swing states of Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania and moving her into a tie with Trump in Ohio, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.
Clinton also has double-digit leads among women likely voters and leads of 28 to 76 percentage points among non-white voters, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.
Trump fares a bit better in the binary choices than he does in the four-way questions, but not by a lot:
- Colorado: Hillary 45/37, 51/40 in two-way
- Florida: Hillary 48/44. 49/45
- Ohio: 45/45 tie, Trump 48/47
- Pennsylvania: Hillary 47/41, 51/45
Colorado has looked like a goner for weeks, which makes the other three states even more important to Trump’s hopes. In all three, independent voters have changed the races since the last polling on October 3rd. Florida’s independents in this series went from 42/39 Trump to 46/38 Hillary, a swing in the gap of eleven points. Ohio independents went from giving Trump a 19-point lead to a one-point edge. Pennsylvania independents budged the least, adding four points to a previous three-point Hillary lead, but Trump needed that to go in the other direction.
Those are fairly dramatic changes for a two-week period, but it parallels the national polling trend in the same time frame. That shows up more dramatically in the national forecast at FiveThirtyEight, where the odds of a Trump win went from 45.2% at the time of the first debate to 11.7% today. That only goes up to 15.1% when adding in economic and historical factors.
So yes, tomorrow’s debate might be Trump’s last, best hope for a gamechanger. Thus far, Trump has largely performed well enough in the debates but has lacked a strategic long-term strategy to profit off of his performances. Hillary has used both debates to launch new attack strategies that immediately play out in campaign advertising and garner attention from the media. Team Trump has to start planning out themes to raise that will hammer Hillary on her vulnerabilities — which should be plentiful, given the latest releases from Wikileaks and the FBI. The knockout has to expand past the event itself for the impact to turn this around — and given the flux seen in this polling, it may not be too late for a gamechanger.