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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Will Colorado Decide the Election?

The late announcement that the FBI has reopened the investigation into Clinton's emails has focused attention for the last week on that subject.  As a result, Clinton's seemingly insurmountable lead over Trump has dwindled.

Clinton still seems to hold an electoral advantage.  As I've pointed out in several recent posts, Trump has to win not only all of the toss up States, but also at least one decently sized State that has been leaning Clinton in order to win.

As I see it, the toss up States are, in order of size:

North Carolina

Now I know that some prediction sites have a larger "toss up" list, but at this point, I think Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado and New Hampshire are going to go Clinton.  Each of them have consistently shown Clinton leads in all polls, usually outside the margin of error. Similarly, Georgia, Arizona, and Utah are going to go for Trump (with the possible exception that Utah goes for Evan McMullan.  Clinton made a few ties in those States when riding high, but her recent fall has made them likely red States.

Assuming, therefore, that it comes down to the five States I've listed as real toss ups, Clinton wins. Clinton can lose Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio and still win.  That's the good news for Clinton.  The good news for Trump is that he seems to have the edge in all five of those States. He could very well take all of them.  North Carolina seems to be his most tenuous advantage at the moment, and could go for Clinton.  But for the sake of argument, let's say Trump sweeps all of them.

A Trump victory, therefore, requires that he also win all those tossups, plus at least one state that I just said was still leaning Clinton.   Pennsylvania and Virginia have throughout the campaign shown Clinton with at least a 3-5 point advantage.  Some polls have been close, but have never swung Trump's way.  I don't see either of those as a good option for him.  Similarly, Wisconsin is pretty consistently showing Clinton with a 5 point lead.  That leaves us with New Hampshire and Colorado.  New Hampshire has one poll showing a Trump one point lead, but all other polls in the last week show Clinton ahead by at least three points.

Colorado though, seems to remain just barely out of Trump's reach. Clinton maintains a pretty consistent 1-3 point advantage in most polls.  If Trump can overcome that advantage, and sweep the rest of the toss-ups, he has 275 electoral votes (270 needed to win).  Another path if he loses Colorado is to win New Hampshire and one Congressional district in Maine, getting Trump to 270. Those are really the only two scenarios for Trump to win.

By contrast, Clinton has many paths to victory simply by winning any of the five tossups I mentioned (and all really could still go either way) to have a margin for error.  But again, even if she loses all five tossups, she need only hang on where she has remained consistently, albeit slightly, in the lead.

Trump does seem to have momentum.  On the other hand, he also does not have any get out the vote campaigns set up. That can easily cost a candidate 1-2 points, possibly more where there is early voting and get out the vote people have longer to work.

It continues to look as if Clinton will win, but every day I seem to say that with a little less certainty.

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