October 11, 2016 at 1:34 PM
According to the Fix's electoral vote tracker — an amazing tool that marries Real Clear Politics polling averages in swing states with the electoral map — if the election were held today, Hillary Clinton would win 341 electoral votes to Donald Trump's 197.
Those totals reflect the fact that Trump's always-narrow path to 270 electoral votes has become a footpath — at best — over the past two weeks or so, dating back to the first presidential debate Sept. 26. Trump has been battered over that time by bad reviews of his debates showings as well as the revelations of lewd sexual talk in a 2005 hot-mic video. His poll numbers have taken a commensurate hit — both nationally and in swing states. That hit is reflected in our weekly update of the Fix electoral map.
Pennsylvania, which we moved into the "toss-up" category last week, immediately moves back to "lean Democratic." Of the five polls conducted in the state after the first debate, Clinton had led by four, eight, 12, nine and 10 points; her average lead, according to RealClearPolitics, is now 8.6 points.
That move is hugely significant for Trump's chances. Taking Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes out of the "toss-up" category means he would literally need to run the table of the states remaining in that category — and then some — to win.
We're also making three other moves this week — all benefiting Clinton.
Arizona now looks more like a "toss-up" than ever. The Real Clear Politics average in the state gives Trump a one-point edge. The last four polls in Arizona have shown Trump leads of two points and four points, a tie and Clinton up two. The last Democrat to carry Arizona at the presidential level was Bill Clinton in 1996 — although he did so with only 46.5 percent of the vote, thanks to the x-factor that was Ross Perot. The Democrat who won Arizona before Clinton? Harry S. Truman — in 1948!
And we are adding Utah and Indiana to our list of competitive states with ratings of "lean Republican." Trump has been doing worse than a generic Republican in Utah for months because of Mormon resistance to his candidacy. A Salt Lake Tribune poll conducted before both debates and the "Access Hollywood" tape showed Trump up only nine points. In Indiana, a state that Barack Obama carried in 2008, an independent poll from last week shows Trump with a five-point edge over Clinton.
We are also keeping our eye on Alaska — yes, Alaska! — because of polling that suggests that the race might well be close. For the moment, however, Alaska remains off our competitive states list. A full list of states we consider potential battlegrounds is below.
Toss-up (79 electoral votes) Arizona (11)*
North Carolina (15)
Lean Democratic (77 electoral votes)
New Hampshire (4)
New Mexico (5)
Lean Republican (39 electoral votes)
* — indicates a move benefiting Clinton