by Frank Cannon
When poker players are drawing to a straight or a flush, they will often talk about having a certain number of “outs” — i.e. how many cards are left in the deck that can make their hand, allowing them to win the pot.
Donald Trump doesn’t have a winning hand yet, but he has a lot of outs.
Last Thursday night, we wrote at Townhall about Donald Trump’s easier-than-you-think path to 270 electoral votes. We explained that Trump could get to 265 by winning Utah, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina. At the time, this still seemed like a somewhat daunting task, albeit one that was within the realm of possibility.
But now? Well, Trump’s lot has improved significantly in these states since Thursday night, as Hillary Clinton’s lead appears to be fading fast:
Obviously, these states are still too close to call, but Trump now is tied or enjoys small leads in all eight of them. That’s a big league improvement over last Thursday. If Trump manages to win all eight of these states, that gets him to 265 electoral votes.
As we wrote last week, Trump then has to win another battleground state to hold Clinton under 270 electoral votes. We highlighted Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Hampshire.
Pennsylvania polling is a true “Choose Your Adventure” story. The eight most recent polls on RealClearPolitics, all sampled October 25th or later, are Clinton +2 (Remington), Clinton +3 (Gravis), Clinton +8 (CBS News/YouGov), Clinton +11 (Franklin & Marshall), Clinton +5 (CNN/ORC), Clinton +4 (Monmouth), Clinton +4 (Quinnipiac), and Clinton +2 (Susquehanna). There is no early voting in Pennsylvania, so this remains a dynamic race to keep our eyes on up until Election Day.
That’s a pretty big swing, and it might be explained, in part, by the Clinton campaign’s questionable strategy of advertising big in Arizona last week while decreasing its ad buys in Colorado. Needless to say, Trump is narrowing the gap in Colorado, outspending the Clinton campaign on TV, and if Trump continues to surge nationally, Colorado may prove to be the final puzzle piece to get him over 270 electoral votes.
The only poll to come out of New Hampshire since our piece last Thursday was a WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll that showed Clinton up seven points, but because older polls dropped out of RCP‘s average, it showed up as a Trump bump. New Hampshire remains a state that Trump believes he can win — he spent more than $1.3 million there over the last two weeks.
Last week, we felt that Trump’s path was limited to these three states, suggesting his path to victory was still quite narrow. Since then, he has surged in national polling. Clinton held a 5.6 percent advantage in the RealClearPolitics polling average on October 27, but six days later she now leads Trump by just 1.7 percent. This, combined with targeted TV advertising in strategic states, appears to have expanded his map to include Virginia, Wisconsin, and perhaps even Michigan.
Everyone keeps trying to write off Virginia … everyone except Donald Trump. The race remains close, with the three most recent polls showing Clinton +4, Clinton +4, and Clinton +6. Trump continues to believe he can win the state, and he has outspent Clinton on TV ads by more than 5 to 1 over the last two weeks. A win in Virginia would point to a shocking Trump landslide.
Wisconsin opens up many possibilities for Trump, and he is doing everything he can to put it in play. He has spent nearly $1 million there over the past two weeks, while Clinton has spent just $90,000. The two most recent polls show Clinton +6 and Clinton +4. If the Clinton campaign doesn’t redirect funds to Wisconsin over the last week, it’s possible a Trump surge in spending could deliver the state.
It’s hard to tell how serious Trump is about competing in Michigan, but the numbers show it’s not completely out of reach, and Trump is fond of visiting the state. Neither campaign has spent much here on TV, but one could imagine a scenario where Trump swooped in with a last second ad buy and pushed this race to the margin of error.
Trump’s odds are improving by the day. Last week, we said that, if we take the polls at their word and don’t factor in additional assumptions — such as the possibility of inaccurate turnout modeling or a hidden Trump voter effect — Trump’s estimated chances were at 20 percent. Now, ignoring any additional assumptions, we can safely increase those chances to 30 percent — or maybe even higher.
Trump has a real shot at winning, and it’s growing more likely by the day.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles Project. Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director at American Principles Project.