Don’t look now, but in the last few weeks the electoral map has shifted significantly in favor of Donald Trump.
Paul Dupont wrote here yesterday about Trump’s updated path to victory and how he currently needs only one more state to push him over the top. And at FiveThirtyEight today, Nate Silver made a similar argument, just in reverse, writing that Hillary Clinton’s electoral map has shrunken to give her one — but only one — “really good” path to victory, which involves her winning every state she is currently leading in. If even one of those states moves toward Trump, however, it will result in Clinton having “a total mess on her hands.”
Both Dupont and Silver identify many of the same swing states most likely to defect from the Clinton column: New Hampshire, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, I think they both overlook one key state which could be poised to take everyone by surprise: New Mexico.
Why New Mexico? For one, although it doesn’t show up in the RealClearPolitics’ average, the most recent polling data from Reuters/Ipsos shows Trump leading by five points over Clinton in New Mexico, while a Morning Consult poll from earlier this month has Trump trailing by only one point in a four-way race. Furthermore, many pundits forget that while President Obama has won New Mexico in the last two presidential elections, Republicans took the state by a slim margin in 2004. In fact, New Mexico was one of only two states that flipped to George W. Bush in 2004 after having voted Democrat in 2000. (The other state was Iowa, which, it’s important to note, is right now polling solidly in favor of Trump after having also gone for Obama in 2008 and 2012.)
While any number of states could swing the election, I have a gut feeling New Mexico may end up playing a decisive role come Election Day.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles Project.