Sunday, November 13, 2016

100 years ago in The New York Times

Over the last few days of the race, Donald J. Trump intends to travel all over the country. He's going to Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and even Minnesota, he said Saturday.

It’s an impressive travel schedule, but it may reflect the biggest challenge facing him right now: It’s still not clear exactly where and how he would win.

Hillary Clinton has a consistent and clear advantage in states worth at least 270 electoral votes, even if the race has undoubtedly tightened over the last few weeks. But even that understates the challenge facing Mr. Trump’s campaign: It’s not at all obvious where he has his best chance of breaking through, making it harder for him to concentrate his efforts over the last days of the campaign.

This is not to say that Mr. Trump can’t win. The polls could be off across the board.

But even if he wins Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Utah, North Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire, he's still short of a victory.

He's not assured to win any of those states, to be clear — although he's a clear favorite in Iowa and Utah at this point. He has trailed in more live interview polls of North Carolina and Florida than he has led, although the national race has tightened since many were taken.

But he would still need to win one of the following states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, or perhaps New Mexico or Minnesota. . . .

Pennsylvania seemed like Mr. Trump's best option earlier in the year, but he hasn't led a live interview poll there since the summer. The final nonpartisan live interview polls there show Mrs. Clinton ahead by a comfortable margin of four to six points. The state will probably be close, but it's quite clear that she has the edge.

Wisconsin is another state that seemed as if it could be promising for Mr. Trump. It has a large population of white working-class Democrats, just as Iowa does, and Mr. Trump is running well in Iowa. But he has struggled among Republican-leaning voters in the Milwaukee suburbs. The race could tighten if these voters return to his side, but he hasn't led a live interview poll there all year.

Michigan could be a more interesting option for Mr. Trump. It was the most Democratic of all of these states in the 2012 election, and he hasn’t led a poll there all year either. But recent polls have shown a relatively tight race there.

Mrs. Clinton visited the state on Friday, and President Obama will visit on Sunday and Monday, and Mrs. Clinton will make another stop on Monday, so clearly the Clinton campaign thinks there's some softness there. That said, if the election comes down to whether Mr. Trump can score an upset in Michigan, he's in a lot of trouble. It seems hard to imagine he could carry the state without also carrying Pennsylvania. . . .

Again, the polls are close enough that the possibility of a victory for Mr. Trump is still quite real. But it's just not clear exactly how or where he would break through. It doesn't seem that the Trump campaign knows either.

– Nate Cohn in The Upshot, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2016

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