Trump may still be "Going Red" in bellwether counties

If you happen to be a Trump supporter there’s no denying the math which has shown up over the past week or two. No matter how well The Donald did during the primary and in some of the initial head to heal polling against Hillary Clinton (while Bernie was still on the warpath), the past few news cycles have done some damage. One poll after another showed Trump’s national lead evaporating and Clinton taking the lead in numbers upward of a dozen points in some cases. To be fair, though, Clinton did begin to sag a bit after the Orlando terror attack, which is what usually happens to Democrats when the nation’s attention turns to external threats. (Reuters)

Donald Trump chipped away at Hillary Clinton’s lead in the presidential race this week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, as the candidates clashed over how to respond to the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The poll, conducted from Monday to Friday, showed Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, with a 10.7 point lead among likely voters over Trump, her likely Republican rival in the November presidential election. That’s down from a lead of 14.3 points for Clinton on Sunday, the day an American-born shooter who declared allegiance to militant group Islamic State killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Of course, “chipping away” at her lead and still being down by double digits isn’t much of a reason to celebrate. But those are the national numbers. What about in the places where the actual election will be decided? You probably recall all of the work that Ed Morrissey put into the question of how the GOP could win the crucial counties in the swing states where presidents are actually elected these days. In his book Going Red, Ed interviewed voters of all stripes to find out what issues were motivating them and how the GOP might regain their support.

A couple of weeks ago we got the first hint of what was going on in these locales from Axiom Strategies. Even as his national numbers were sinking, Trump was holding on pretty well in those counties. Now they’ve gone even deeper into this particular geographic analysis, and as Politico Reports, Hillary Clinton has a fight on her hands that she’s currently losing.

Axiom identified seven counties in seven battleground states that have proved to be bellwethers in the past four elections. Trump, so far, has an edge in four of them, Hillary Clinton has an edge in two, and they’re statistically tied in one. The selected counties correctly predicted the statewide result in each of the past four elections and came closest to the actual statewide margin of victory.

The counties where Trump is ahead include Watauga County, North Carolina (+4); Sandusky County, Ohio (+5); Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (+17); and Washoe County, Nevada (+12).

Clinton, on the other hand, holds modest leads in Jefferson County, Colorado (+4), and Loudoun County, Virginia (+8).

The two are statistically tied in Tampa’s Hillsborough County, Florida.

These are some of the same counties where Ed conducted most of his interviews and, at least for now, Trump is carrying the day. This brings up an interesting question to consider for the November elections. We should start by reminding ourselves that all of these poll numbers can and mostly likely will change a dozen times over the course of the summer, but if they held anywhere near what we’re seeing today, this could be an historic election in a very different way from the one Hillary Clinton is picturing. What if she won the popular vote across the nation by a modern landslide with a more than double digit lead and yet managed to lose the Electoral College by a dozen or so votes? The only other time it’s happened in the modern era was George W. Bush’s victory in 2000, but he only lost the popular vote by one half of one percent and the electoral college was as close as it could be with the victor taking 271.

A result which matched up with the poll numbers we’re seeing today would be close to a constitutional crisis. Swearing in a president who lost the popular vote in something close to a 55 to 45 trouncing would be pretty much the opposite of a mandate. And yet the current electoral college system allows for precisely that outcome.

Food for thought, anyway.