We are below 50 days left to go. 49 days exactly today, as its the 7 week mark. Seven weeks left to election day.
Polling average: Hillary ahead by 1.1% (was 2.2% last week and 3.4% two weeks ago) in RCP average (4-way polls). If you want the good news for Trump? He is picking up one point nationally per week now for two weeks, if this were to hold, Trump could be up by 6% by election day. If you want the good news for Hillary, the polls may JUST have peaked and are again swinging in the opposite direction. NBC/SurveyMonkey out today says 5% for Hillary (up 1% from their previous poll a week ago) and Reuters daily tracker which had the race tied a week ago, now shows a 4 point race for Hillary. Whichever side you are on, there is reason to be cheerful.
RCP national average has 6.8% undecided (was 6.6% and 9.3%). When those undecided are allocated proportionately, the national race is at 1.1% (2.5% and 3.7%). Thats a race now most like like W Bush vs Al Gore in 2000 (where Al Gore won more votes but W won the Electoral College and became President).
The actual race is for the Electoral College ie 'the map'. RCP Electoral College Map (no toss-ups) shows 294 (311 previous week, 340) EV votes for Hillary, 245 (227 and 198) EV votes for Trump. 270 is needed to win. The map has for the first time since RCP published it, with Hillary at under 300 EV votes. Since last week another state shifted for Trump (Ohio). So now against the last election (Obama-Romney 2012) Trump is up in 3 states (Ohio, Florida and Iowa) while Hillary is up in one (North Carolina).
The TV ad wars have Hillary and her SuperPAC up with TV ads in Arizona, Colorado Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hillary was up with ads in Georgia which have now ended. Hillary's ad buy is 6.5 million dollars in those states. Her SuperPAC runs about the same amount in about the same states. Trump bizarrely has gone DARK. He has no TV ads up currently. (Trump's last ad buy was 2.5 million dollars last week, divided exactly proprotionately in the 4 big battleground states Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina). But he's now gone silent. Truly bewildering strategy. His next ad buy starts next week after the first debate.
But an anti-Hillary ad buy IS up just now, by the NRA (National Rilfe Association) which bought 5 million dollars in ads, half of which went nationally and half into 5 states - Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania - battleground states - plus Nevada - Trump trying to pick that up, plus.. Virginia (a waste of TV ads but its the home state of the NRA and they hate its former Governor current Senator and VP pick, Tim Kaine, so that is probably just the NRA being personal about the attack). For the record, Trump's next ad buy for next week is a broad set of states, it covers Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa. has taken down all ads other than four states, the real battleground of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. So the very expensive waste of TV ads in Michigan and Virginia has now ended. Because both sides ARE paying to do TV ads in seven states (Trump starting next week) we can say the race currently centers on those seven states. They are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa. Everything else is either noise or bonus. Including the national polls from now till the end. These seven states will decide it.
The map has expanded for Trump as he seems to hold Iowa and is up in Ohio and Florida. I said previously Trump has to win both North Carolina and Pennsylvania (as Virginia and Colorado are off the table and Wisconsin and New Mexico and Michigan were never seriously in play). Now Trump has two difficult but alternate paths WITHOUT Pennsylvania. Both require that Trump wins in North Carolina (and FL and OH and IA). First is that Trump gets Nevada and Colorado. The second path is that Trump doesn't win Colorado but wins Nevada, New Hampshire and the single district in Maine. Trump is currently not seeming to try to win Colorado, he seems to be aiming for the second path as his alternate path to victory as Pennsylvania is not moving in his direction.
So the simplest path for Trump is to Trump wins all four big states of those four (and doesn't lose any states that Romney won). With FL, OH, NC and PA he wins the race. But Trump has to win all 4 or Hillary becomes President. If Trump wins 3 of the four, he has two other paths that require Trump to win Iowa and Nevada. If Trump wins FL OH NC IA and NV, then he either needs yet a Colorado; or instead of Colorado to add New Hampshire and the one district in Maine. So lets look at the RCP polling in those eight states. This is what decides the race:
Florida - Trump leads by 0.9% (last week Trump led by 0.2%, previous week Hillary led by 3.6%)
North Carolina - Hillary leads by 0.6% (was 0.7% week ago, and 0.3%)
Ohio - Trump leads by 2.0 (was Hillary lead of 1.8% last week, and 3.3% week before)
Pennsylvania - Hillary leads by 6.2% (was 5.8% and 6.0%)
For the alternate path, adding now 4 states to monitor:
Iowa - Trump leads by 4.3%
Nevada - Hillary leads by 0.2%
Colorado - Hillary leads by 3.0%
New Hampshire - Hillary leads by 6.0%
So the alternate map for Trump is not looking any easier than winning Pennsylvania but he seems to be trying the Iowa-Nevada-New Hampshire (and Maine 1 district) route. And remember, Hillary is also making a serious play for Arizona (down by 2.2%) and if Hillary can flip AZ, then the above math becomes meangless, even if Trump won Florida, Ohio, NC, Pennsylvania AND Iowa, if Hillary steals Arizona, she becomes President.
As a reminder, Obama won all eight of those states in 2008 and won 7 of the 8 (lost NC) in 2012. As of now, Hillary is still with a modest lead in the battlegrounds but she has no 'cushion' (yet) out of the other states she is contesting for, Arizona and Georgia. The play that Trump briefly tried for Michigan has now ended. We still have exactly 7 weeks to go. If you want to see last week's Countdown summary, its here. And my full Sept 1 Election Scorecard, it is here.
Campaign stops. Trump seems to have picked up some discipline to his unorthodox campaigning and now as I can see, he's headed to only battleground states in the immediate next days in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton's schedule isn't as clear and she just cancelled/postponed a North Carolina event today. Last week saw the best array of Hillary's surrogates come to support her from Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders to Michelle Obama to Barack Obama.
Campaign Staff. We're starting to see campaign resources catalogues. Not yet a perfect picture but many of the critical states are being reported. In general terms Hillary has about three times the paid staff as the partnership of Trump and the Republican party. I've found 1,480 for Hillary in 7 states including Arizona and Georgia, and 480 corresponding Trump+GOP staff in five of the same states not any in AZ or GA. But I don't yet have the full picture. I'm working on it..
Of the Senate Race, while we are here. RCP Senate Map (no toss-ups) says 49/51 for Republicans barely holding the Senate. (It was 49/51 last week and 50/50 two weeks ago). They give pick-ups for Democrats out of Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and a pick-up for Republicans out of Nevada, for a net +3 (was +4) Senate Seats to Democrats. The state of New Hampshire is the one that slipped back to remaining with the incumbent Republican by current polling.
The House Map by RCP is also up now. Currently if the Democrats were to sweep all 15 of the 'toss up' seats for the House as well as of course winning all that RCP projects they are ahead - the Democrats would be 15 seats short of the majority in the House. If we assign the toss-ups exactly evenly, the House would remain in Republican hands by a 22 seat majority.
And for the record. My latest forecast update (Sept 1) says Hillary will end up winning by 18%, get 448 EV votes to Trump's 90. Hillary to win 35 states and the District of Columbia; Trump to win 15 states. National vote distribution 53% Hillary, 35% Trump, 9% Johnson and 3% Stein and the rest. To see more of my current forecast, see the end of the Scorecard.
For those interested in the details of the race, two weeks ago I did an aggregation of the two '50 state' polls with the RCP in-state polling for the same period to give the best statistical view to every state as of August, published anywhere in the open on the internet. (I hope to update that after the month of September is done)
Next major scheduled event in race is one week from now, on Sept 26 when Trump and Hillary will have their first debate, at Hofstra University in New York State. It will be moderated by Lester Holt of NBC News. It will involve 3 topics that were just revealed: America's direction, Prosperity, and Security. It starts at 21:00 (9pm) local time NY.