Ahead of the second presidential debate Sunday night, the secret Donald Trump audiotape of him bragging about groping and kissing women — and let’s be clear, if he did what he’s bragging that he did, it would be assault — has shaken the presidential race and is reshaping the presidential map.
Yes, the majority of Trump’s supporters are likely to stay with him, but any chance he had at winning over those persuadable voters might very well be gone.
Dozens of Republicans have called on him to drop out of the race — something Trump said there’s “zero chance” of happening, but it’s hard to see how that doesn’t have an effect on the race.
So, we are making some significant moves in the NPR Battleground Map. To begin with, we are moving Ohio, Iowa, Georgia and two electoral votes in congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine from Lean Republican, where they looked like they were heading last week, back to Tossup. We will be watching them and other tossups closely to see if they begin to lean toward Clinton.
What’s more, after Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, called on Trump to resign, we are moving Utah from Likely Republican to Lean Republican — and we will be watching it to see if it goes to tossup.
The result of this new map — at present — is taking 42 electoral votes off the board from Trump that that were leaning in his direction and puts them all up for grabs.
There could be more changes, too. Other places to watch, for example, include Missouri, which before 2008 was a battleground.
This is all especially possible if reports are true that the Republican National Committee is considering halting organizing operations for the Trump campaign and redirecting to Senate and House races. RNC Chief Strategist Sean Spicer, however, has been tweeting that reports of any abandonment of Trump by the national committee are “false.”
We won’t know for a week at least from polling how exactly all this sets in. How Trump performs Sunday night could either tamp down the flames — or, if Trump brings up Bill Clinton’s past infidelities and attacks Hillary Clinton for them, cause a backdraft never seen before in presidential politics.