Blue Wall Crumbling: CO, PA Now Dead Heats, Clinton Camp Abandoning Ohio?

Posted: Sep 26, 2016 9:01 AM

They'll strenuously deny it, I'm sure -- and it does seem a bit far-fetched that a deeply-funded campaign would abandon 18 precious electoral votes in a state in which their candidate is within the margin of error.  Then again, Trump has led in five of the last six statewide polls in Buckeyeland -- and actions speak louder than words. National Democrats are pulling up stakes in Ohio's Senate race, and now CNN notes that the state has been conspicuously absent on Hillary's travel schedule lately.  "So long Ohio?" Hmmm:

“It’s been 20 days since Hillary Clinton stepped foot into this classic battleground state, and she’s not expected to visit it again in the month of September...That is a nod to the political reality they’re facing, her campaign. She is struggling mightily among white voters.”

At the very least, the Clinton camp has decided that her time ought to be concentrated elsewhere -- a seemingly significant concession from an operation that not terribly long ago was whispering to reporters about the many paths to a "commanding" victory they enjoyed.  As for the "political reality" they're now grappling with among white voters, the final Washington Post/ABC News survey prior to the opening presidential debate shows a dead heat race.  The 'tightening vs. expanding race' see-saw hinges back in the anti-Hillary direction with this result, which represents a three-point shift against Mrs. Clinton since the last installment of this series, and a six-point swing since early August.  Keep in mind that these numbers closely reflect new national polling from Bloomberg and Quinnipiac.  This race is officially a jump ball:

Two things strike me about these top lines.  First, they suggest a possible collapse in support among the third party options, as voters may be gravitating toward the two major party nominees as the campaign enters its final stage.  Keep an eye on other national polling to see if this is a verifiable trend.  Second, Clinton clinging to a two-point lead (and tied among registered voters) cannot feel like a secure spot for her, particularly because the partisan sample is a whopping D+10.  That exceeds even the deep blue tilt of the 2008 cycle by several points.  Taking a look at the internals, on voters' top two issues (the economy and national security) Trump is tied with Hillary head-to-head.  And while she still far outpaces him on temperament and qualification questions, his marks aren't quite as low as they have been elsewhere -- and he beats her on honesty, despite the media's efforts to expose him as the bigger liar of the two.  Demographically, Trump leads by 16 among white voters, but trails by 50 among non-whites.  The gender gap is extraordinary: Trump is ahead by 19 points with men, as Clinton leads by...19 points with women.  As I've been saying, Trump just needs to mitigate these weaknesses, not erase them, on the debate stage.  And as Team Clinton reportedly fears, public expectations are set in such a way that likely benefits Trump:

And remember how much I've been writing about the importance of Pennsylvania? Well, here is one, admittedly very bouncy-looking, data point to chew over.  Don't hang your hat on this just yet (six points in one week in the same poll?), but if we see more Keystone State numbers like these start to emerge, the Hillary flop sweat will start to bead up around her temples (see update):

Finally, a quick thought on the continued reality-show-style trollization of this presidential race. After the Clinton crew apparently invited billionaire Mark Cuban -- and frequent Trump tormentor -- to sit in the front row this evening, Trump mused that perhaps he'd invite one of Bill Clinton's ex-mistresses as his guest. And she seems to have accepted.  It's not actually happening, it turns out, but it got a ton of press, as Trump undoubtedly intended. Nevertheless, this tit-for-tat was juvenile and petty, and those who believe Trump's counter-measure was more unseemly than Hillary's initial provocation have a pretty solid case. But to play devil's advocate, Mrs. Clinton has decided to thrust the treatment of women into the forefront of the contest, as a centerpiece of her attack against Trump. One could argue that the Gennifer Flowers feint was simply a crass 'glass houses' shot right back at the Clintons. What a year.

: Let the flop sweat begin.  Oh my: 

CBS poll also shows Trump back from the dead in Colorado, with the long-awaited Pennsylvania tightening finally arriving. One polling bright spot for her is in Virginia.  Trump can win this race. The pressure is on Hillary Clinton tonight.

UPDATE II - Via Right Sightings, here's my pre-debate preview with Bret Baier last evening: