Where does presidential race stand, post-Labor Day?

This article appears in the Election 2016 feature series. View the full series.

There are so many issues to address regarding the 2016 election which is now only two months away. One could start with the nine controversial statements Donald Trump managed to utter during 24 minutes of presentation at the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum. Of course there are also the shaky answers of Hillary Clinton to the repeated email inquiries during the same forum.

I think, however, this might be a good time to take another look at where the race stands at this point. The race is tightening. Polls are showing a tightening in the national race and in a number of battleground states.

As a Hillary Clinton partisan I am of course nervous about the latest data. From the perspective of political analysis, however, I actually see less cause for concern for Clinton supporters. Clinton got a big bounce out of her convention which was considered far more successful than the Republican convention. That bounce actually lasted longer than a convention bounce typically does. The race tightening could have been easily predicted.

The electoral map has not changed. Traditionally blue states in presidential elections give Clinton a significant advantage over Donald Trump. Trump has a very narrow path to victory, and would have to pull off victories in some very unlikely places.

We are going to see some powerful surrogates for Clinton crossing the country in these final two months. Trump does not have the star power to compete with President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren among others.

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Secretary Clinton also has a significant organization and ground game. Donald Trump has chosen not to put such an organization together, and any efforts to do so now would not be competitive. Most pundits agree that a superior ground game is worth a couple of points on Election Day.

Clinton also seems determined to push forward aggressively in these final two months. She is making many more appearances and providing greater access to the media in various forms. She is talking more about herself and about what she plans to do as president rather than just attacking Donald Trump.

Trump, on the other hand, has failed to change as a candidate. He is good for at least one controversial statement anytime he speaks. It is therefore difficult for him to gain ground and attract additional support.

It is true that Clinton just had her own gaffe in saying that half of Trump's supporters are "deplorables." We will have to wait and see what lasting fall out there may be from this comment.

More importantly, it will be the debates that will prove to be the defining moments of this campaign. Anything can happen, but Clinton would have to make some huge mistakes and Trump would have to exceed expectations for the race to change dramatically. I don't foresee that happening.

Additionally, the email and Clinton Foundation controversy may be running out of steam. The new questions about Trump's own foundation lessen the potency of the charges against Clinton. Many will no doubt continue to consider her untrustworthy, but I suspect that she will begin to be seen as a little less untrustworthy as we draw closer to the election.

I would expect a gradual movement of support toward Clinton, and with effective debate performances that lead could grow significantly. If that lead doesn't widen it will probably still end up a three- or four-point popular vote victory for Clinton. If she wins the popular vote by four points she will likely wind up with an Electoral College total of around 350 votes.

Note: As I was preparing to submit this blog post for publication, news was surfacing that Hillary Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia. The impact of this news is still to be determined.


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