By Dave Andrusko
Ten weeks to go until we learn the composition of the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and, most important, who will be the president of the United States.
And we are one week out from Labor Day, traditionally seen as the kick-off to when politics truly move into high gear.
Pro-abortion maximus Hillary Clinton is ahead in almost all polls—the Los Angeles Times daily tracker is the exception, showing Donald Trump up nearly three points—but the margin is shrinking not just in the overall national numbers in virtually all surveys but also in pivotal battleground states.
So what do we know as of August 30, 2016? Here are four thoughts.
#1. First and foremost, as the comparison piece we ran yesterday vividly illustrates, for the single-issue pro-lifer voter there is no debate.
Clinton would use both hard power and soft power to attempt to crush the pro-life Movement at home and insinuate abortion into every nook and cranny in the developing world abroad. She wants your tax dollars and mine to pay for abortions, pledging to try to end the life-saving Hyde Amendment.
When Trump listed the names of judges he would appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court, all were pro-life. He also opposes the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions and the heinous partial-birth abortion procedure, to name just three position of importance to pro-lifers.
#2. Several of the aforementioned national surveys show a tightening of the race. The new NBC/SurveyMonkey poll shows Clinton’s margin at 6 points, down from 8 points last week. But—and note—the margin is 4 points if Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are included.
As many have correctly noted, this reflects a diminution of support for Clinton rather than an increase for Trump. That decrease could well continue but Trump also needs an increase in his own baseline level of support to prevail November 8.
But then there is all important Independent vote:
The one group that is open to changing their minds are registered Independents who do not lean toward either party. Trump has made inroads with this group. Two weeks ago, Clinton led Trump by 12 points among this key group of persuadable voters — 40 percent to 32 percent. This week, that lead is down to just 4 points — 37 percent to 33 percent.
#3. Speaking of crucial battleground states, the highly respected Emerson poll recently found the two candidates tied in Ohio, Clinton up by only three in Pennsylvania, and five in Michigan.
What about the Senate races?
In two U.S. Senate races, the Republican incumbents seem likely to hold on to their seats. Ohio’s Rob Portman has a wide lead over former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland (40% to 25%), although 25% of Ohio voters remain undecided. Portman is viewed much more positively (41% favorable, 35% unfavorable) than Strickland (26% favorable, 54% unfavorable). In Pennsylvania, incumbent GOP Senator Pat Toomey holds a 7-point lead (46% to 39%) over Democratic challenger Katie McGinty, with 10% of voters undecided.
#4. Then there is the pivotal state of Florida. The two most recent polls show Trump up 2 points and Clinton up 2 points. By the way, the most recent survey shows them tied in Iowa, Clinton up by only 2 points in Nevada, and just 1 point in North Carolina.
Even if you are by and large only a casual observer of politics, my guess is over the next three weeks your interest level will jump exponentially.
This is an amazing contest, and not just in the unparalleled media hostility toward Trump (prominent journalists run think pieces to tell you why treating Trump responsibly would be irresponsible), but in what I’m guessing will be several more large shifts in popular opinion.