Wargaming the Electoral College
Lots of movement in the last two weeks -- all of it towards Donald Trump.
Let's start once again with the RealClearPolitics poll-averaged map, but with all the leaning states stripped out.
On the surface, things don't look much different from August, when I wrote that on that month's maps, "the bad news is mostly Trump's." Ten weeks ago -- when we were still so young and innocent -- Clinton's base of hardcore Blue states was 154, and Trump's base of hardcore Red states was 84. Today's base is nearly unchanged, 155-96. Hillary has locked down Maine's splittable vote (ME01), and Trump can now count on Utah and Mississippi.
Below the surface, you'll see that Clinton's collapse is as almost as deep as it is broad.
Look at those leaners for Clinton, notable for their absence.
At Hillary's high-water mark, her Leaners count added up to 247 -- just 23 EC votes shy of Madam President-Elect. Just Florida or a number of combinations of only two other states would put her over the top. Since then, however, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have all dropped out of her grasp. CO and VA are the most surprising, since just last month we saw Likely Voter polls of those states showing Clinton with all-but-insurmountable leads. And that was just a month after CO and VA appeared to be far too close to call -- I'm getting whiplash over here.
From there, things for Clinton go from bad to worse.
Two weeks ago I conducted something of a Wargaming thought experiment, based on that almost-unprecedented WaPo/SurveyMonkey poll of 74,000 Registered Voters. Since Likely Voters trend Republican typically by 2-4 points, I put my thumb on the scale to see what would happen if I spotted Trump 3 points nationwide in a four-way race. The result was that Trump's "northern route" to victory through the Rust Belt -- which had seemed to have closed in August -- was again wide-open. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were all up for grabs. Florida, and Nevada, too. With a base of Clinton 218/Trump 239, it was the first Wargaming exercise of 2016 showing Trump with a realistic path to victory.
Many readers thought that relying on a single online poll of Registered Voters wasn't a very good predictive tool, and of course they were right.
But as you see above, we now have a second dataset helping to confirm that WaPo/SurveyMonkey outlier.
And perhaps even more, as you'll see below.
This final map shows the battleground states where Clinton's short-lived lock has slipped, or where her advantage has turned into a tie, or where a tie is now trending for Trump. On this map, blue is bad for Hill -- and 174 is an awful lot of Electoral College votes to have redshifting over a few short weeks of poor campaigning. By "poor campaigning" I mean "health scares, insults, and extended nappy times."
Now the details.
Rasmussen has Trump up by two (42-40-7-2/Trump-Clinton-Johnson-Stein) nationally, and more importantly, showing a three-point lead in Nevada which had been trending Blue.
And if you're still looking for a stronger indicator, the most recent polls collected by RCP were all completed from September 7th-15th. That's a whole lot of swing states with a whole lot of Electoral College votes, that have all been drifting rightward and which may have drifted further in that direction for the last five to 13 days.
That means that the most recent polls we have for RI, CT, NH, UT, MI, NJ MO, and CO have yet to fully reflect the public's perception of Clinton's "stumble" in New York City last weekend. And they don't reflect any -- none, zero, nada -- change in sentiment which might have followed this weekend's domestic terror attacks. Trump performed well on Sunday, very presidential. Clinton looked... Clintonian, which is not a compliment, and not what voters are looking for following a terror bombing.
Clinton collapsed on video nine days ago in New York, but her collapse in the polls might be just beginning.
(All maps created with 270toWin's iPad app, which is highly recommended. Perfect for fiddling with on the sofa while you watch the news. If you prefer to do your wargaming in a browser tab, the website is great, too.)