Things have been going downhill for Donald Trump ever since the release of the 2005 audio clip in which he made lewd comments about women. Things got even worse for him when a number of women came forward with claims that Trump has sexually assaulted them.
The mainstream media is trying to make it look like Trump is completely out of the race at this point and has no chance of winning. The latest polls, however, have revealed this is not the case at all.
Yet the polls conducted this week, after the second presidential debate on Sunday, have not been apocalyptic.
To be clear, the most recent polls are very bad news for him. He trails by a considerable margin — perhaps by around seven percentage points nationwide, based on state and national polls over the last few days.
There is no precedent for a such a large comeback in a modern presidential election with around three weeks to go. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen; The Upshot model gives him an 11 percent chance of winning.
But the more relevant question now is whether he will lose by a landslide margin and in the sort of wave that would swamp Republicans in the Senate and even jeopardize Republican control of the House.
A wave election seemed possible after Mr. Trump was heard bragging about groping women in a videotape, causing many Republican officials to withdraw their endorsements. It seemed it might be imminent after an NBC/WSJ poll showed Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead soon after the video’s release.
But there aren’t yet many signs that the bottom has fallen out for either Mr. Trump or the Republican Senate candidates in key states like Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada and Missouri.
Notably, even less popular senators — like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Burr of North Carolina — have held up fairly well in polling this week. On balance, the race looks more or less the way it did a week ago.
The same thing seems to be true in the House. There aren’t many public House polls, but the Cook Political Report updated its race ratings Friday, and there are still just 33 Republicans in either “lean” or “tossup” seats. It’s a very different story from 2006, when the number of competitive House seats quickly surged after revelations that Mark Foley, a Republican congressman, had send lewd messages to a former congressional page.
The Republicans aren’t in the clear quite yet. The biggest warning sign: a big drop-off in the G.O.P.’s standing in the generic congressional ballot. The NBC/WSJ and Fox polls both showed Democrats building six-point leads, up from a one-point lead in the Fox poll and a three-point lead in the NBC/WSJ poll (the prior NBC/WSJ poll was among registered voters).
There are reasons to consider whether things could get worse for the Republicans. For one, Mr. Trump may not have hit bottom — not with a steady stream of women coming forward claiming that he groped or kissed them without consent. And so far in this election, it has generally taken a week or two for big shifts to take hold — whether it was Mrs. Clinton’s post-convention bounce or her post-debate bounce.
But let’s suppose this is as bad as it gets for Mr. Trump, and let’s say the final polls say the same thing they do now. Even then, it would be hard for the Republicans to feel too comfortable. The number of undecided and minor-party voters is very high.
These voters have not yet been swayed to support Mrs. Clinton or the Democrats. But they have probably never supported Mr. Trump, they view him very unfavorably, and an overwhelming majority don’t believe he’s qualified to be president. The possibility that they could disproportionately break to Mrs. Clinton — and the Democrats — seems very plausible.
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