Friday, August 19, 2016

The Coming Av-Hill-Lanche, Con't

At this point, even the relatively careful Sabato's Crystal Ball political forecast maintains a Hillary Clinton win in November, the question now being what her margin of victory will be.

What about the overall picture? As our regular readers know, we’ve been the Rock of Gibraltar when it comes to a Clinton victory. Our first electoral map, issued at the end of March, showed Clinton at 347 EVs to 191 EVs for Trump, and all subsequent maps have maintained those totals — until now. After looking carefully at Nebraska’s 2nd District — Nebraska being, along with Maine, a state that awards one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district — we’ve decided that NE-2 is leaning toward Clinton. It isn’t much of a lean, and it’s possible that if Trump can tighten up the contest, this one will wobble back to the Republicans. But for the moment, adding NE-2 to the Democrats makes Clinton’s total 348 EVs and Trump’s total 190 EVs. As you’ll recall, Obama carried this district in 2008 but lost it in 2012, so it’s on the margins — yet it also ranks 49th out of 435 congressional districts for percentage of non-Hispanic whites with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Moreover, not only is Clinton investing ad money in Omaha, which also bleeds into the western parts of swing state Iowa, she is also spending actual campaign time in the city, a sign that her campaign believes it can win this extra electoral vote. And did we mention Warren Buffett, a huge Hillary fan, dominates the economic landscape there?

We’ve heard from many of you asking why we haven’t switched Arizona and Georgia to Clinton. The answer is simple: There’s not enough evidence yet to justify doing so. The polling averages are basically tied in both, so we’ll keep watching. Probably these states would be the next on our map to change color if a blue tide is in the Nov. 8 forecast. On the other hand, if Trump manages a modest recovery, Arizona and Georgia would remain in his column.

By the way, we’re lowering Kansas and South Carolina from Safe Republican to Likely Republican after recent closer-than-expected surveys surfaced. In the former, the latest statewide poll from SurveyUSA had Trump ahead by just five points, 44%-39%, and notably it showed Clinton ahead 45%-35% in the Kansas City region. Echoing that finding, an internal survey for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R, KS-3) showed Clinton up 44%-38% over Trump in a district that is mostly in the Kansas City area. In addition, KS-3 was a 54%-44% Mitt Romney district in 2012, further confirming our views of NE-2, which voted for Romney by 53%-46%. Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey found Trump up only 41%-39% in South Carolina, and it is a state with a high Democratic floor (but a low ceiling) because of a large black population and the Palmetto State’s racially polarized voting. We certainly don’t expect either Kansas or South Carolina to vote Democratic. Still, we have noticed that many deep red states may be preparing to produce lower-than-usual pluralities for Trump. It won’t matter in the Electoral College, of course, but it will be reflected in the national popular vote total.

Sabato's map is pretty much exactly what my map would look like if I made a forecast for November today, with the exception of Missouri moving into only Likely territory for Trump, and sliding the upper Midwest Great Lake states from Likely Clinton to Safe (or at least Minnesota.)

Trump again is heading for a beatdown, this is the Obama 2008 drubbing of McCain minus Missouri and Indiana, and both are definitely in play for Clinton.  But how cool would that be if Clinton picked up Arizona and Georgia as well?  That's the direction we're heading right now.

We'll see.  Word at this hour is that Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is now out.

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