Yesterday's memo isn't labeled "everybody chill out," but it might as well be. The basic gist is that despite Trump's unmistakable momentum in national and (most) battleground polling -- which is largely attributable to Hillary erosion -- she has multiple plausible paths to victory, whereas Trump's realistic road to 270 electoral votes is quite limited. If you look at polling averages and play with this map for a little while, you'll see that he's mostly correct, even if he doesn't want to acknowledge the reality that his disliked, lying clunker of a candidate could still find a way to lose this thing:
Hillary Clinton has many paths to 270 electoral votes, while Donald Trump has very few. Hillary is nearly certain to win 16 “blue” states, including Washington D.C., which will garner her 191 electoral votes. If we add the five states that FiveThirtyEight.com gives Hillary a 70% or greater chance of winning (Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin), Hillary only needs ten more electoral votes. Even if he wins Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio he’s still 17 electoral votes short of 270. To win, he’ll need to find those electoral votes in Colorado (which FiveThirtyEight gives Hillary a 65% chance of winning), plus at least two of the three small battleground states: Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire. All of these scenarios assume that Trump wins traditionally “red” states, such as Arizona, Georgia, and Utah, even though he is currently underperforming in these contests.
Lefty blogger Greg Sargent generally agrees with this analysis, then asks some reasonable "yeah, but" questions of the Clinton camp in his post breaking down Mook's missive. For an alternative view, read these pieces from Politico and NPR arguing that Hillary's Electoral College firewall isn't as impenetrable as Democrats say. The two states that I've watching most closely are Florida and Pennsylvania. Trump could conceivably cobble together a map to 270 without the Keystone state (Romney territory, plus Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, a Maine district, and New Hampshire, for instance), but it's a lot more difficult. Team Trump got some dispiriting news out of Pennsylvania yesterday, as that electorate hasn't really swung in his direction at all amid other national changes. Florida is a different story; Trump has gained ground there. That's a happy development for him because without the Sunshine State, Trump is cooked. Period. He edged ahead in RCP's Florida average last week, but now Clinton has tied things up again with back to back polls putting her in front. We told you about the Siena/NYT survey earlier in the week, but these numbers from Monmouth's respected pollster (cheered across Trumpworld mere days ago for its positive results in Iowa and Nevada) are more concerning. She's up five on both the two-way and four-way ballot:
Monmouth U poll— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 20, 2016
Florida likely voters
That's actually an improvement for Trump since last month, but despite a bad stretch of taking on water, she's maintained a modestly comfortable lead in the state. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, is still over-performing Trump by a seven-point margin but is fighting a much closer race than we've seen in other recent surveys (leading by two). In another new Florida poll from St. Leo University, Hillary also leads Trump by five. Similarly, this represents an anti-Hillary swing of nine points since August, but even with all of that adversity, she's managed to hold the edge. Rubio leads his Democratic opponent by nine points in this survey, tracking with CNN's poll from last week. Hillary is gearing up to outspend Trump on the air in Florida by a 52-to-1 margin (!) from now until election day, which theoretically should help her...but how has her enormous ad advantage worked out so far?
Regardless, it cannot be emphasized enough: Without Florida, Trump absolutely loses. Right now, it's neck-and-neck heading into the first, and quite possibly most important, of three crucial presidential debates. While Trump is very likely to level attacks against alleged unethical dealings at the Clinton Foundation (with new examples still popping up) and recent revelations about Mrs. Clinton's bruising email scandal, don't be surprised to see Hillary counter by going after Trump's "charitable" giving. A recent Washington Post story revealed how Trump gerry-rigged his so-called charitable foundation as a means of giving away other people's money as his own, while occasionally splurging on vanity items such as a large painting of himself. The details are rather unflattering, but not as bad as today's follow-up report:
Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents. Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
The Post found records proving that on a number of occasions, Trump settled lawsuits and judgments against his companies by cutting sizable checks from his charity. If you're interested to see how Mrs. Clinton tries to parry serious questions about her family's "slush fund"/influence bank into proactive attacks, here's a preview:
Clearly the Trump Foundation is as much a charitable organization as Trump University is an institute of higher education...Trump’s version of charity is taking money from others to settle his own legal issues and buy at least two pictures of himself, which experts say is a clear violation of laws governing charitable organizations. Once again, Trump has proven himself a fraud who believes the rules don’t apply to him. It’s past time for him to release his tax returns to show whether his tax issues extend to his own personal finances.
And then he'll swipe at her hidden Wall Street transcripts, and round and round we'll go. Strap it in, folks. Things could get ugly on Monday night, with so much at stake before such a massive televised audience, as millions of potential voters check in on the race for the first time.