by Paul Dupont
Last week, The Pulse’s own Jon Schweppe gave a detailed rundown of possible electoral strategies Donald Trump can take if he hopes to beat Hillary Clinton. As Schweppe pointed out, based on polling and past election results, Clinton and the Democrats have a significant, built-in electoral advantage, and it would take a very good showing for Trump in numerous swing states — especially Pennsylvania and/or Virginia — to soundly defeat her.
This has been the storyline in much of the mainstream media’s election coverage. Take, for example, the Politico story earlier this week, “Trump’s shrinking swing state map,” which suggested that Trump’s path to victory is growing slim and that Colorado, New Hampshire, and Virginia are already out of reach for Republicans – apparently not taking into account the two most recent Virginia polls showing a race within the margin of error. The Washington Post sounded a more upbeat note in an article yesterday, “Donald Trump finally seeing signs of life in key swing states,” though the story was still one of a serious uphill climb remaining for Trump.
All this analysis assumes, however, that the race will come down to the same dozen or so swing states, and that the unique dynamics of this election will still not serve to expand the electoral map beyond that. While this is not necessarily an unreasonable assumption, there are signs this could be changing.
Some attention is already being paid to the way in which Hillary Clinton could be putting traditionally red states into play for the Democrats, such as Georgia, Utah, Mississippi, and even (gasp!) Texas. But she may not be the only candidate making inroads into unlikely territory.
According to recent polling conducted by Emerson College of a slew of traditionally blue Northeastern states, Trump has closed to within striking distance of Clinton in two Democratic strongholds: he trails her by only 4 points in New Jersey and by just 3 points in Rhode Island (within the margin of error). Considering the utter absence of recent polling in these states, it is difficult to put too much credence in these results. Nevertheless, it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility, given Trump’s unorthodox candidacy, that he could be poised to perform better than past Republicans in these states — and might even make them competitive.
None of this is enough just yet to override Trump’s status as the underdog in this race. But with two months left in the campaign and the debates still to come, the electoral map is far from settled.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.