Clinton Cannot Run Out The Clock

Tick tock, tick tock.

Positive political winds have been filling the sails of Hillary Clinton in recent days, but as any good sailor knows, the winds can change.

Politico reported the other day that the Clinton camp has a “run out the clock” strategy ready to put in place. Clinton already has the appearance of being locked away from the press, and this could dangerously reinforce that perception.

When you look at the strategy in concept, it should work. Clinton has an almost double digit lead over Trump, and letting him implode has worked in the past. But, in the next ten weeks it is important to remain relevant and galvanize early voters. Early voting which can begin in late September for some voters may help decide the election. Anything can happen.

When you look at the polling breakdown, Donald Trump has regained some ground on Clinton. The average of recent polls had Clinton up ony 6.5 percentage points. Two weeks ago Clinton had an 8.5 point edge. Trump gained two percent in two weeks. Every increase in polls Trump receives the chance of him winning come November increases.

It is likely that Clinton will maintain an edge over Trump all the way through election day, but Trump is gaining on the Democratic nominee at a surprising clip.

538 has Trump up to a 27% chance of victory come November. This is up from 25% one week ago and 21% a month ago. He is trending up, and that should keep the Clinton campaign on their toes through November.

It is important to note that while Trump has gained on Clinton, the polls have not shifted monumentally in his favor. There hasn’t been some crazy revelation that would push voters one way or another. However, it is important to note that Trump is winning the random shifts battle at this point in time. It’s all about momentum and gradual movement. In a way, Trump set the bar so low that being anywhere above it makes progress in the campaign.

A slew of polls have Clinton almost within the margin of Trump, but the Rasmussen Reports (GOP leaning) poll has the former Secretary of State gaining ground. And additionally the Ipsos/Reuters nationwide tracking poll showed Clinton improving. It’s important to note that Ipsos/Reuters poll has a large sample size. Take a look at their methodology and predictions.

It’s an interesting lot of polls to consider. However, state to state polls are not favoring Trump. Razor thin gains were made by Trump in traditionally red swing states like North Carolina. Florida, for example, had Clinton leading on average by a couple percentage points. Some polls even have her up in the Sunshine state by as much as 14%.

So, while Trump may be gaining slightly in certain states, it is not a distinct certainty that he can turn his campaign around with so little time left.

If you use the 2012 election as a model for the 2016 election you can look at these polls with a healthy skepticism. Barack Obama was leading Mitt Romney by only a couple percentage points overall, but his steadily strong polling in key states foreshadowed a relatively certain win at some point. Hillary Clinton is in a similar position. Her campaign cannot accept this as the status quo because it is liable to shift very rapidly.

The Clinton campaign has been more proactive in countering negative stories. This is likely to keep the focus on Trump’s campaign turmoil and to give the GOP nominee little to no ammunition to fire off at the debates.