Oddly, Donald Trump’s strategy of committing one massive blunder after another after another on a near-daily basis has not countered the Democratic convention bounce:
Hillary Clinton’s post-convention polling surge is showing no signs of fading. She leads Donald Trump, on average, by about 7 percentage points in national polls, and is an 83-percent favorite to win on Nov. 8, according to our polls-only model. Our polls-plus model — which accounts for the “fundamentals,” as well as the tendency for a candidate’s numbers to temporarily rise after his or her convention — gives her a 76 percent chance. Those are her largest advantages since we launched our election forecasts back in June.
But it’s also possible that Clinton’s strong numbers aren’t solely the result of a fleeting post-convention afterglow. As my colleague Nate Silver pointed out on Friday, Trump’s recent struggles — his attacks on the Khan family and feuds with Republican leadership, for instance — could be inflicting more durable damage to his chances. Trump is the least-liked major party nominee in modern history. Perhaps the conventions and their aftermath, when many voters presumably tuned into the 2016 race for the first time, established a new equilibrium. Perhaps this is 1988 all over again, with the parties reversed.
The real key is the state-by-state data. 538 is showing Trump leading in exactly 2 swing states, and 1)both of those average leads are less than 1%, and 2)those two states — Georgia and Arizona — are superfluous for Clinton under virtually any plausible scenario. The Upshot has a similar picture, although it has North Carolina as a toss-up that slightly favors Trump. With Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania pretty much off the table — and, let me repeat, Michigan is not any kind of swing state — it’s not clear what Trump’s path would look like. Clinton probably doesn’t need Florida, but she looks likely to win it, and without it Trump is absolutely drawing dead. It’s too early to say Trump has no chance, but he’s a yoooooge underdog.