In case you were still withholding judgment about who won last week's presidential debate, let there now be no doubt. Unless you are determined to cling to meaningless online polls, it's clear that Hillary helped herself and Trump hurt himself at Hofstra. He cannot afford to lose another debate to her, and he must stop chasing Hillary's tactical squirrels. There's a reason why Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich are pleading with Trump to change course: He blew the debate and has dealt himself setbacks ever since. Clinton has enjoyed a small national bounce since besting the brash billionaire a week ago, and now Quinnipiac (which garners an A- pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight) is out with new numbers from four crucial swing states. Uh oh:
Quinnipiac has Hillary up 5 in FL, 4 in PA, 3 in NC while Trump is up 5 in Ohio. pic.twitter.com/noqW5LFlvH— Marcus Hawkins (@HawkinsUSA) October 3, 2016
Ohio is looking pretty solid for Trump at this point, as the Republican has led in eight of the last nine statewide surveys conducted there. And a four-point deficit in Pennsylvania isn't terrible news for Trump, as it represents a very slight tightening in this series. But Florida is a straight-up must-win for him, yet Mrs. Clinton has now led in five of the last six Sunshine State polls, and has recaptured the RCP average lead there, leading by nearly three percentage points. As for North Carolina, that's one of two polls out today showing Clinton edging ahead in Tar Heel country:
There's a chance that her margin is slightly better than that because fellow lefty candidate Jill Stein, er, isn't on the ballot in the state. Anyway, four consecutive polls have Hillary in front in North Carolina, which will tip the RCP average back in her favor. Meanwhile, out in Colorado, Trump's drastically improved fortunes appear to have been thrown in reverse. A pair of new surveys, including one from Monmouth's respected outfit, suggest that Clinton is enjoying a double-digit Rocky Mountain bounce:
And with the Old Dominion looking consistently out of reach, my mid-August analysis of the race suddenly looks pretty strong again: Trump should forget demographically-difficult Colorado and Virginia, and press hard in Florida and Pennsylvania. I'll leave you with this: To the surprise of nobody, Team Clinton has released a new ad based on the New York Times tax report, highlighting half of the two-pronged attack I predicted this morning. Watch:
Millions of Americans work hard and pay their taxes. So why doesn't Donald Trump pay his? pic.twitter.com/WLSzIz0ewG— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 3, 2016
Trump needs to be much, much better prepared for this weekend's forum.
UPDATE - Right on cue, here's the second part of Clinton's inevitable tax story attack: