NPR: OK, fine, it looks like Trump has a viable path to 270 after all

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday September 20th, 2016

Another dam breaks.

As the polls have sped in a pro-Trump direction over the course of the past week, Hillary loyalists and their media servants (but I repeat myself) have insisted that regardless of what you see in national polling, the electoral map is simply too difficult for Trump to actually give him a viable path to 270 electoral votes. Our rejoinder has simple: That's true until national trends become so strong that state numbers start to follow, and suddenly the realities of the map change.

I don't know how sustainable Trump's current momentum is, but I do know that if it continues for long, no reading of the electoral map can save Hillary. George W. Bush won 286 electoral votes in 2004, which means you've got at least enough states out there that are open to going red that a combination leading to 270 is at least possible for Trump. It's just a matter of whether his national strength can bring those states along. Up until today, no dinosaur media outlet had acknowledged any specific scenario that might actually see Trump get to 270.

It's not without some anti-Trump editorializing, but per NPR, that dam has now broken:

But now, less than a week before the crucial first debate of this presidential race — and as a terrorism bombing investigation continues in New York and New Jersey — a viable route has emerged for the Republican nominee, according to the latest NPR Battleground Map.

About a dozen battleground states have gotten closer, with some key ones showing Trump leading for the first time. Hillary Clinton retains the advantage, but it's a far more precarious lead for the Democrat than at any time in this presidential race.

Trump's movement comes as many pollsters have switched to "likely voter" models, which try to predict the electorate based on factors like enthusiasm and past voting records. That alone may be responsible for most of the tightening, but it also follows a less-disastrous month of campaigning for Trump than the stretch immediately following the party conventions, which saw his fight with the Khan family, whose son, a Muslim American, was an Army captain killed in Iraq. Trump also began running his first major round of campaign ads in key states in recent weeks.

The closing in the polls, though, is despite Trump's continued inflammatory language, like threatening to blow up Iranian ships that get too close to American ones; reiterating a hard-line immigration plan; and finally declaring that President Obama was born in the U.S., without apology, and while starting a new false claim that Clinton's campaign started the birther movement.

The change in the race has also come as Hillary Clinton landed in the first bit of non-email and non-foundation controversy following her comments labeling "half" of Trump's supporters as a "basket of deplorables" and revelations that she withheld a pneumonia diagnosis from the public that caused her to leave a Sept. 11 remembrance early. Video showed her collapsing before being ushered into a van.

Clinton has slipped with some key demographic groups — notably young people, many of whom are choosing third-party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson. The Obama coalition isn't as fired up for Clinton at this point as it was for Obama, who enjoys approval ratings over 50 percent.

I bolded the paragraph in the middle because it's hilarious. Aside from the fact that Clinton starting the birther thing is not false, which we've already documented here, why does NPR think Trump's gains are despite threatening the blow up Iranian ships that get too close to American ships, or taking a hard line on immigration, or bring the birther thing to a close? Maybe these are unappealing positions in NPR world, but for an awful lot of voters, they're exactly what they'd like to see from a presidential candidate.

Anyway, here's the graphic from NPR that really illustrates the point:

NPR: OK, fine, it looks like Trump has a viable path to 270 after all

Now, if you want to take the skeptical view, you're going to argue (and you wouldn't be wrong) that this only offers Trump a viable path to 270 insofar as he would have to win all of the tossup states, and even then he just barely gets there. That's true. But so is this: If Trump can build a national advantage of 3 to 4 points and sustain it in the actual vote, he almost certainly does win all the tossup states. Also consider this: NPR projects states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to lean Democrat, and they probably do, but those are also traditionally states that are treated as battlegrounds, which means Hillary will have to expend some of her resources and time defending them. That puts Trump in a stronger position to win the tossup states. And if any of those three start slipping away from Hillary, well now the electoral map could end up looking like a Trump landslide.

Don't get too excited. We're very far from any sort of place where confidence, let alone overconfidence, would be warranted. But it means something when the media are no longer trying to pretend Trump has no path to victory. Clearly he does, and this is why the media have stepped up their all-out war on Trump. The're terrified he's actually going to win this thing. And if he does, their freakout will make for somme of the best TV you've ever seen in your life.

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