The race is on. After two months of watching Hillary Clinton poll strongly in the battle for the White House, we’re seeing a tightening in recent days. Donald Trump is making a move to close the Electoral College gap as we enter the final week before Election Day. Whether legitimate forces are fueling the shift or mainstream media outlets are adjusting their methodologies to avoid looking bad is for you to decide, but Trump vs. Clinton is clearly shaping up to be a race to the finish.
Today’s projection features Florida and Nevada moving to the red column. But Trump continues to lag behind Clinton in projected electoral votes, 250-288. Obviously, he’ll need to carry more states to surpass the former secretary of state, and the critical question for this last week of the election season is can he find enough additional electoral votes?
I’ve taken a look at the trends in the polls and have come to the conclusion that Trump’s path to victory will require polling data to be badly off in a state or two for him to reach 270 EVs. As things stand today, Trump is a couple points behind in North Carolina (though a poll released after today’s numbers were published here at EP gives Trump a 7-point lead and threatens to flip North Carolina to red). If he wins the Tarheel State, that raises his EV total to 265. Beyond that, Maine CD-2 seems a ripe candidate to join North Carolina in Trump’s column. Make the EV tally 266-272, still in Clinton’s favor.
This is where the climb gets somewhat tough for Trump. The closest of the remaining Clinton states is Colorado, projection: Clinton +2.0. With nine EVs, Colorado would put Trump over the top. However, he hasn’t led a poll there since mid-September. Next on the list are Wisconsin (Clinton +5.0), followed by New Hampshire (Clinton +5.8), Pennsylvania (Clinton +6.0), Virginia (Clinton +6.6) and Michigan (Clinton +6.7). If Trump were to win any one of these states, he would earn a winning number of electoral votes. But given the Mod DEM Hold rating for each of them, he would have to outperform polls pretty significantly for that to happen.
Judging from his recent campaign stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump is well aware of the makeup of Electoral College map. In the closing week before the votes are counted, look for movement in these currently-blue states as a judge of Trump’s chances at victory. If they start to fall within the margin of error – or if he manages a lead in a poll or two in Colorado – that will signal a good chance our next president will be Mr. Trump.