A quick electoral overview, hours before VP Debate

By Dave Andrusko

clintontrump8Tonight is the one and only vice presidential debate–pro-life Indiana Gov. Mike Pence against pro-abortion Senator Tim Kaine–which will take place at 9:00 EST. On Sunday pro-life Donald Trump squares off in Round Two against pro-abortion Hillary Clinton.

Polling numbers have generally gone in Mrs. Clinton’s direction since the first debate, although it is likely true that they will shift depending on what happens Sunday at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Currently her advantage is in the 3-5 point range, although Rasmussen has Trump down only one and the Los Angeles Times Daily tracking poll has him up 4 points.

Pennsylvania remains one of the most intriguing states, where Clinton’s lead (in polls that including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein) ranges from one to four points. (We won’t know for a week or so whether the latest Franklin and Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania voters that just came out showing Clinton up 9 points is a trend or an outlier.)

The Los Angeles Times ran a story yesterday which like so many accounts is to simultaneously warn Democrats of over-confidence and warn that the race in Pennsylvania is close. The headline reads, “Pennsylvania was once merely important in presidential elections. Now, it’s Hillary Clinton’s firewall,” and was written by Cathleen Decker.

The story is useful for two reasons: for what it says about a state that may prove to be more unpredictable than anyone could have ever guessed and because Decker’s account suggests there are states out there Clinton may lose that would require carrying Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

Decker writes

In Philadelphia, the Democratic political pulse is thrumming with both resolute optimism and panicky fear.

After more than 20 years as reliably blue in presidential contests, Pennsylvania by dint of other states’ moves is suddenly the Clinton linchpin, the place that could deny Donald Trump the presidency.

That puts heavily populated Philadelphia in the hot seat, perhaps the most important target for Clinton in what ranks now as her most important state.

After quoting a series of semi-confident assertions from local organizers and volunteers, Decker ends with this:

But they also spoke to the multitude of fears among Democrats about a race that, for now at least, is tighter than most had expected.

“For the Obama campaign in 2008 I saw excitement,” said David Rodriguez, the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Latino caucus. “In this campaign, I’m going to be honest, I do not see the excitement.”

But that is only half of the dilemma for Clinton, caught between some voters who are not excited about her candidacy and others who refuse to take Trump seriously.

“Some people say, ‘Don’t worry about it, David, Hillary is going to win,’” he said. “We can’t be overconfident.”

Be sure to watch the two-hour Pence/Kaine debate tonight.