Donald Trump needed to win the third presidential debate to have a shot at becoming the 45th president of the United States. Now that the pundits, pollsters, voters, and politicians have had a full 48 hours to digest what was said at Wednesday night’s debate, it’s clear that the consensus is not in Trump’s favor. Many people are left wondering if Trump can turn it around in the final 18 days and find a way to win this election.
Nate Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight and respected election data guru, isn’t guaranteeing a Trump loss in November, but his post-debate analysis is clear that Trump basically needs a miracle. Silver writes that Trump’s refusal to accept the result of the election if Hillary Clinton wins hurt him bigly. Silver also notes the data alone paints an ominous picture for Trump’s chances to squeak out a victory.
“There aren’t really any direct precedents for a candidate coming back from this far down to win an American presidential election, although you can make a few loose analogies,” Silver said.
Silver’s election forecast currently gives Trump a 13.7 percent chance of winning the election.
Are there any GOP insiders who think Trump has a legitimate chance of winning the election? Politico sat down with a dozen Republican strategists after the debate and asked if Trump had changed the trajectory of this race back in his favor.
Robert Blizzard, a GOP pollster and partner at Public Opinion Strategies, was one of the many prominent Republicans voicing concern for Trump’s chances of winning which will likely impact down-ballot Republicans after his final debate performance.
“The biggest loser [at the debate] was not Trump; the presidential race is over,” Robert Blizzard said. “Instead, down-ticket Republicans lost tonight — they needed some help and got absolutely none.”
David Byler, an election analyst for RealClearPolitics, has been carefully studying Trump’s chances of winning throughout the election. Byler wrote last month that Trump was hitting his benchmarks giving him a path to win the election. After Trump’s first debate performance, and then the release of the Hollywood Access video, Trump’s chances started trending downward.
“Past polling data shows that three weeks out from the election, polls usually don’t move more than 3.4 points toward either candidate,” Byler said. “And in the final week of an election, national polls usually don’t move more than two points. In other words, Trump’s ability to make up ground will decrease as the days tick down.”
Trump is currently down by 5.8 points, according to the RealClearPolitics four-way race average.
Nate Cohen, the New York Times data wizard, only gives Trump two ways to win the election. Either the polling data is false, or Trump finds a way to grow his base of support in the closing weeks.
“Right now, it’s fine to just focus on the big picture — whether that’s the national polls, with Mrs. Clinton holding a lead of around seven percentage points, or the various models. He needs a significant and broad tightening: He would be a clear underdog even if he trailed by half as much as he does now heading into Election Day.”
Trump’s post-debate bump seems unlikely. Karena Virginia came forward after the third debate as the 10th woman to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump needs something akin to a WikiLeaks bombshell to get his campaign back on track. However, if the latest 13 dumps of emails from Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta can’t derail her campaign yet, Trump’s future probably rests on his shoulders alone. If Trump can find a way to win this race, it will be the biggest upset in U.S. presidential election history.
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