The State of the Campaign – Trump Down but Within Striking Distance

Trump’s numbers have held up well considering the barrage of attacks he has faced.  He is only behind by a few points in the swing states.  Furthermore, there is reason to believe the current lead of Hillary is volatile and can be closed with a good counter-offensive by Trump.

I suspect her lead is fragile for two reasons.

One is the LA Times poll.  Although I would not interpret their results to mean Trump can take victory, or anything, for granted, the LA Times poll is worth keeping in mind as a measure of turnout enthusiasm on account of its unique methodology.  The poll is designed so that its results are highly sensitive to changes in which group of voters are likely to turnout on election day.  Other polls usually fix their demographic profiles based on best guess calculations derived from previous electoral trends.  The LA Times poll, on the other hand, has no fixed profile but instead estimates what the real-time voting profile would be if the election were today.  In a volatile four-way race that remains close, with undecideds still between 5 to 10 percent of poll respondents, and where unusual factors and candidates are being processed by the electorate, a “free floating” system of demographic weighting may be the correct statistical approach to take.

The second reason is the high negatives of both candidates.  Hillary has pulled slightly ahead because her attacks have raised Trump’s personal negatives, but at the same time, she is also being held back from putting the race away by her own negatives.

When Trump counter attacks, he should not focus on policy but go personal instead.  Interestingly, he is preferred by the electorate on a number of issues.  But on policy he has maxed out his advantage.  The public has already absorbed the policy differences  between Trump and Clinton, and there is no further point of reminding the electorate of what they already know.

What they have not thought about are her personal negatives; and it is her personal ratings where the most return on investment for Trump rests.

If Trump attacks Hillary with ads (and he will need to include the scandals in the ad mix, as Republicans usually must do, to get around the media blackout) about her enabling of her husband’s history of sexual assault, Bill Clinton’s connections to Jeffrey Epstein, email and financial scandals, and her role in Benghazi, and any other scandal Trump may have information about, I would expect the polls to once again close between them just as they did during his September offensive which moved him from behind to ahead.

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