The race for President has closed in recent days, presenting a path to victory for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as Trump tries to flip several states into the GOP column, while Democrats seem to be building a major firewall in one southern state.
Let’s take a look at where things stand with seven days left until Election Day:
1. The final surge is on for Clinton and Trump. Every hour and day that was wasted over the last few months is gone. You now have only seven days to shake hands, make calls and give your pitch at rallies. Trump is clearly trying to squeeze more and more into his day, and it’s been making him late for many of his events. You can only get the airplane to go so fast to so many places.
Clinton has also added a stop in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Nevada remains a very key state.
Trump will also hit Florida & Pennsylvania on Thursday, along with North Carolina.
2. Will Clinton suffer from the FBI story? This is a difficult question, because if it was just one story on its own, it might not matter that much. But, as I have documented for more than 20 years, Hillary Clinton is no rookie when it comes to investigations, one reason she struggled to win her party’s nomination earlier this year. While all the focus on her emails doesn’t really help, there are some who don’t think it will hurt that much, given that most voters only see problems with the other guy, not their own candidate.
3. The Democratic Party firewall is – North Carolina. The Tar Heel State might seem like an odd place for the Democrats to build a firewall – maybe Florida or Pennsylvania might be better some would argue. But if you look at this week’s campaign schedule, you see some major assets being deployed in North Carolina. Hillary Clinton will be there on Thursday (as will Donald Trump). Vice President Biden in there today. President Obama will be there on Wednesday, and then returns to make two more stops on Friday. That is a lot of firepower. North Carolina is important for another reason – as Mitt Romney won there in 2012, so a win for Clinton would flip 15 Electoral Votes.
4. Trump tries to turn Blue states to Red. From the outset of this campaign, Donald Trump and his supporters have often talked about how he was a different candidate, how he would “expand the map” for the GOP in 2016. As of now, there is little evidence to show that, as Trump has not really put any non-swing states into play. Trump is trying – he stopped Sunday in New Mexico, Monday in Michigan, and today goes to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump backers have long said the polls were wrong, and they hope to prove in one week.
5. What about the polls? If you have followed me closely this year, I have tried to stay away from reporting on the polls. Why? For a simple reason, the last two big elections, we saw the polls were off by a good amount in some races. In 2012, the polls consistently overestimated Mitt Romney’s support, and underestimated Barack Obama. In 2014, the polls overestimated support for Democrats, and fell short on support for Republicans. We can probably guess that the polls are wrong in 2016 – but we won’t know which way they are skewed until the final numbers are in. This chart from FiveThirtyEight shows how the polls have swung back and forth. Sometimes the polling bias is very small, as in 1996, 2004 and 2008. But other times, it is big, like 1998, 2002, 2012 and 2014.
What do I think is going to happen? I am not making any predictions. It’s just too easy to be wrong.