The evidence is still coming in, but polls so far suggest that the tape of Donald Trump discussing sexual assault and the ensuing accusations didn’t cause support for the GOP presidential nominee to collapse.
Instead, the week’s events seem to have reinforced a downward trend that started at the beginning of the month. He’s unlikely to recover, and Trump’s odds of winning on Nov. 8 are less than 1 in 10, according to HuffPost’s projections.
According to HuffPost Pollster’s trend for the two-way Hillary Clinton vs. Trump race, Trump’s numbers began dropping at the end of September after briefly rising as high as 43 percent. He’s at just under 41 percent now ― a small but significant decline. In polls including third-party candidates, there’s been essentially no movement: Trump is stuck between 38 and 39 percent.
There have been a few alarm bells. Utah is one of them. Two polls out this week show Trump in a close race with Democratic nominee Clinton and conservative independent candidate Evan McMullin. Republicans typically win the state by large margins.
And presidential forecasts show declines in Trump’s chances of winning over the last week. When The Huffington Post’s presidential forecast model debuted on Oct. 3, Clinton had an 84 percent chance of winning, leaving Trump only a 16 percent chance of becoming president. Now, 11 days later, Trump’s chances are in the single digits. Clinton has a 91 percent chance of winning. The model gives her 341 electoral votes to Trump’s 197.
Trump’s lower chances in the forecast stem from small shifts in polls across several states. Despite the poll changes in Utah, it’s still classified as a likely Trump win. Other states have seen small ― but important ― shifts toward Clinton. Michigan and Wisconsin are now over 90 percent likely to go to Clinton, which gives her 273 electoral votes just among states that she is 90 percent or more likely to win.
Florida has gotten a bit bluer and has an 89 percent chance of going to Clinton. Ohio, North Carolina and Nevada have made small changes to now lean in the Democratic direction. Ohio and Nevada were leaning toward Trump last week.
These movements are small, but make no mistake ― Trump is in big trouble. No candidate has ever come back from a polling deficit this large to win the election. The 91 percent probability of a Clinton win 25 days out are as high as forecast probabilities were of Barack Obama winning the day before the election in 2012.
These numbers could ― and probably will ― change between now and Election Day.
It’s possible that Trump’s numbers won’t fall any further and might even increase slightly simply because he’s already this far down. Trump’s ardent supporters are happy to accept his explanation of the tape as “locker room” talk and “just words” in order to vote for the party line. If the controversy quiets down, some less strident supporters might come back as we’ve seen happen after previous Trump scandals.
But the numbers aren’t likely to come back up much. For one thing, the Trump campaign isn’t showing any signs of trying to repair the damage. They seem to be in complete denial that they’re losing this race, falling back on the adage that “the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.”
Trump falsely claimed on Thursday that the polls show a “dead heat.” Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade “I think these polls have been all over the map. I honestly think there’s something missing in the polling these days.” When pressed on what he meant, Pence cited large crowds at campaign rallies as his evidence that the polls are missing the mark.
Crowd size means nothing. Polls do, and that’s a bad thing for Donald Trump.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.