The Most Important Poll of the Week


For those watching at home, I would say the biggest poll of the week was released about a half hour ago. It was the Maquette University Law School poll conducted by Professor Charles Franklin. Remember, we spoke to Charles in Episode #4 of my new podcast.

Franklin runs the premium in-state poll in Wisconsin. He just released his final poll of the presidential election. The result is Clinton 46%, Trump 40%. Why is that a big deal? After all, that’s more or less where the PollTracker Average has been for a while now. Everybody has been assuming that Clinton wins Wisconsin. So what’s the big deal?

Well, it basically comes down to this. The race has clearly tightened over the last week. I think a mix of three things are driving that. First, it’s been a few weeks since Trump’s horrific run of news in late September and early October: tax revelations, the ‘grab’ tape followed by a string of credible accusations of sexual assault and more. It’s not that no one remembers that. But the initial shock has partly worn off. Second, partisan muscle memory kicks in late in the campaign. That makes races close at the end. Third, the Comey letter, even if it hasn’t changed many views, has dominated media coverage for four or five days. If nothing else it’s taken up all the oxygen in the room and refocused the campaign on Clinton’s greatest vulnerability of the cycle. Whether you think there’s anything to the emails story is beside the point. It has been the most damaging.

At the moment, Nevada, Florida and North Carolina are each basically too close to call. On the TPM Electoral Scoreboard both North Carolina and Florida are in the Toss Up category and actually have minuscule (under one percentage point) leads for Trump. Nevada is Lean Trump but it’s moved their largely on the basis of one poll which is likely an outlier, albeit from a quality pollster. I’d see that as still basically a Toss Up. And to me, chronic undersampling of Hispanic voters and history of Dems’ big field advantage, make me suspect Nevada still goes Clinton.

But here’s the real issue. If Trump wins Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Nevada – basically runs the swing state table, he’s still short of 270 votes. Why? Because of Virginia and New Hampshire. The key here is that even if he runs the table he needs to win at least one blue state. We haven’t had a lot of quality polls of late in states like Colorado and Wisconsin. So while there was no reason to think that Blue Wall was buckling, we didn’t totally know. A six point lead in Wisconsin makes it pretty clear that Clinton is an overwhelming favorite in the state and it suggests more broadly that the tightening has not affected the Blue Wall.

Another finding of the Marquette poll: It seemed to find an uptick in Clinton emails focus/concern among voters on Friday. But by the weekend it had settled back down to where it was. None of this is really surprising, that 270-290 Blue Wall holding up is consistent with the national polls which show a mid-low single digit advantage for Clinton. The upshot is that this race could end up being much closer than many of us would like and closer than almost everyone expected. But without a breakthrough in those core blue states, Trump still can’t win. This new poll shows that wall of core blue states holding up pretty nicely.