Clinton Starts General Election With Lead and Momentum

As the General Election season begins, Democrat Hillary Clinton has both a lead over Republican Donald Trump and momentum.

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The Rasmussen Electoral College Projection shows Clinton winning in states with 191 Electoral College votes, while Trump has the edge in states with 170 Votes. Fourteen states with 177 Votes are at least somewhat competitive. Details available at RasmussenMediaGroup.com

However, those numbers understate Clinton’s advantage. Of the 14 states in play, nine lean towards the Democrats, two are leaning Republican and three are Toss-Ups. When you include the “leaners” in the total, Clinton has a 310 to 191 advantage. A total of 270 Electoral Votes are needed to win the White House.

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Additionally, Clinton appears poised to receive a significant bounce now that she has wrapped up the nomination. Following her larger than expected victory in California, prediction markets showed seven states moving in Clinton’s direction. Prediction markets are platforms where people bet on the outcomes, and have proven to be reliable indicators in the past.

The only really cheery news for Team Trump at the moment is that the election is still five months away. A lot can change between now and November.

A Trump victory would require the Republican nominee to win all the states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 and then flip enough other states to find 64 more Electoral Votes. As of today, though, there is not a single state won by President Barack Obama that is leaning in the Republican direction.

Two Obama states — New Hampshire and Ohio — are Toss-ups. Nine others are already leaning in Clinton’s direction: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Add them all together and there’s a pot of 156 potential Electoral Votes. That’s potentially enough for the Republican standard bearer, but it’s clearly an uphill fight.

Adding to the Republican challenge, three states won by Romney are far from secure. North Carolina is a Toss-Up, while Arizona and Missouri are only leaning towards Trump.

Some believe that Trump will redraw the map by attracting white working class voters in the Midwest. He could, for example, pick up the needed votes by winning Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Ronald Reagan did that back in the ’80s, and some believe Trump will re-engage those “Reagan Democrats.” Obviously, the GOP candidate has exceeded expectations all year and it would be foolish to dismiss this possibility out of hand.

At the same time, it would be equally foolish to ignore how much of an uphill fight that will be. Michigan, for example, has voted Democratic in six straight presidential elections. Wisconsin has done the same seven times. Pennsylvania is a state where Republicans always think they have a shot but somehow manage come up a little bit short. All three of those states are listed as Leans Democrat in the Rasmussen projections.

Put it all together and Trump is trailing but not defeated. Hillary Clinton has the upper hand as the new season begins, but she has proven to be a weak candidate in the past. It remains to be seen if the most surprising candidate of 2016 is able to pull off one more surprise between now and November.

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