Hillary Clinton’s surge in the polls over the past week has widened her path to victory in November and put Donald Trump in a deeper hole than recent losers Mitt Romney, John McCain or John Kerry faced at this phase of the campaign.
Trump’s disastrous week — in which a series of controversial comments and inaccurate statements helped send the GOP presidential nominee spiraling downward in polls taken after the two national party conventions — has put him significantly behind his Democratic opponent. He now trails by about 7 percentage points in the national averages calculated by RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster, and has been forced to play defense in a number of reliably Republican states.
But for all the talk of Trump’s collapse, Clinton’s post-convention bounce returns the race to roughly where it was before July — a month that began with FBI Director James Comey criticizing her “extremely careless” use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, even as Comey said the government shouldn’t charge Clinton criminally. Clinton has equaled her previous high-water mark in the(6.8 points on June 28) and the (7.1 points on June 20).
And that widening chasm between the candidates in national polls is playing out on the Electoral College map as well. As Clinton has pulled away from Trump overall, she’s moved traditional battleground states into her column. Clinton posted significant leads this week in Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — which would clinch the election for the Democrat, even if she lost the other seven states POLITICO has identified as(Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin).
But Clinton has also put longtime Republican states onto the map. Top Democratsat polls this week showing her with slight advantages in Arizona and Georgia, even though neither state has voted Democratic since Bill Clinton was president.
There are already signs Trump is poised to respond. Though he has yet to air any television ads in the general election, the real-estate tycoon’s campaign this week requested rates in 17 different states — a roster that includes the traditional swing states, but also reliably red states like Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri.
At the same time, the Trump campaign is also inquiring about ads in historically Democratic territory — Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — counting on the candidate’s appeal with working-class white voters to overcome the traditional blue tint of these four states, none of which has gone Republican since the 1980s.
Trump’s path to the presidency is both narrow — losing more than one state among the trio of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania would make Trump’s path a tightrope walk — and wider, given the candidate’s trips to traditionally Democratic territory, like his visit to deep-blue Portland, Maine, this week.
Still, both national and state polls show Trump has emerged in the immediate post-convention period as a decided underdog. Prediction models that take into account state polling show Clinton shattering her previous ceiling.has Clinton over 80 percent odds to win for the first time since it launched two months ago. Same for .
The state polls on which those models are built were unanimous this week in identifying decisive Clinton advantages in the most critical battlegrounds. In Florida, Suffolk University500 likely voters from Monday through Wednesday, finding Clinton with a 6-point lead, 48 percent to 42 percent.
Clinton blew open a 15-point lead in New Hampshire over Trump in asurvey of 609 likely voters, in a state whose primary she lost by 22 points to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Michigan, another state Clinton lost to Sanders, has also moved more solidly in her column. Clinton leads Trump 41 percent to 32 percent in the latestpoll; and in a separate EPIC-MRA , Clinton holds a 10-point lead of 46 percent to 36 percent.
Trump was already taking a hit in Pennsylvania even before he declared to a Northern Virginia audience that its capital of Harrisburg “” as he flew out of town. A survey, conducted by telephone and online, showed Clinton with an 11-point advantage of 49 percent to 38 percent, a week after Suffolk University’s showed a solid 50 percent backing Clinton to 41 percent for Trump.
But Clinton’s advantage extends beyond the known universe of battleground states.
She’s jumped out to a small advantage in Georgia, posting a 4-point lead of 44 percent to 40 percent in an Atlanta Journal-Constitutionout Friday, drawing significant majorities of women and the population of the immediate Atlanta metropolitan area.
And a one-day automated-phone poll in Arizona this week conducted by the Phoenix-based firm OH Predictive Insights found Clinton with a 3-point lead, 45 percent to 42 percent. (The poll surveyed only voters on landlines — despite the fact that two-thirds of Arizona adults live in households either without a landline phone or where most calls are made on mobile phones.)
The Clinton campaign doesn’t need Arizona to win, and it isn’t yet advertising there — thoughearlier this week that the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA is considering expanding its efforts in the state. But not only was Arizona one of the states where the Trump campaign requested ad rates, it’s one of the five states where Trump has expressed interest in hitting the airwaves prior to the final two months of the campaign.
The other four are more traditional swing states: Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Only Pennsylvania has seen new, post-convention polling. Both theand have suspended advertising in Colorado, where the Democrat had a big lead going into the conventions.
Clinton and Priorities remain on the air in eight states: Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. But both are planning to come down, at least temporarily,later this month. Pre-convention polls showed Clinton building a consistent, single-digit lead there, too.
Then there’s a long list of Democratic-leaning states about which the Trump camp is inquiring, but Clinton and her allies aren’t yet spending to defend: Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Trump, in Maine on Thursday, told the Portland Press Herald he isn’t just planning on swiping one electoral vote from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District — he thinks he can win statewide and capture all four of the state’s electoral votes. In addition to “some polling we’ve done internally,” Trump cited conversations with supporters on the ground as evidence.
“You know, we see something that’s very interesting, we have a lot of support, we have a great Republican group up here, as you know and we have a lot of support,” Trump said. “You saw the young people walking out and those are people knocking on doors. And they were just telling me they think we are going to win the whole state, not just the one [electoral] vote.”