With Five Weeks To Go, Clinton Appears To Have Momentum

With five weeks to go, the momentum in the race is moving decidedly in Hillary Clinton's favor.

First Presidential Debate 2016

Thirty-five days from today, Americans will be headed to the polls to cap off what has been one of the most bizarre campaigns in American history. In some parts of the country, early voting has either already started or will be starting in the near future. Within the next week we’ll have two of the three Presidential debates and the Vice-Presidential debate behind us and we’ll be at the point where voters actually start making up their minds. Because of that, the trends we are seeing now are likely to define the rest of the race going forward. As anticipated, of course, the biggest story of the week was the Presidential debate Monday night and, while the entire encounter fully lived up to the low expectations that many observers had for it, it was also clear that Hillary Clinton won the debate easily and that Trump walked away from the affair clearly rattled and distracted. The best example of this was the fact that a brief mention by Clinton of disparaging comments that Trump had made about a Miss Universe contestant in 1995 caused Trump to go off on a week-long tirade that essentially ate up his entire news cycle and threw him off message for the first time since he had rebooted his campaign some five or six weeks ago, By the end of the week, Trump was up at three in the morning tweeting about the story rather than ignoring it while Clinton had moved on to rallies where she pushed her agenda while needling Trump about his as-yet unreleased tax returns. That story also reared its head toward the end of this seven day period with a report in the New York Times reporting on what appeared to be a portion of Trump’s 1995 tax return and the fact that he had taken a business loss that could potentially mean that he did not pay any taxes for the next eighteen years or more, Additionally, as we’ll see, the polls that last week suggested the end of Hillary Clinton’s slide all now seem to be moving in her favor again just as the closing weeks of the campaign begin,

In the week since the debate, a number of national polls, including polling from CBS News, NBC News, CNNThe Economist, and Fox News Channel, have shown Clinton expanding her lead over Trump to five or six points. At the same time, the only poll that is consistently showing Trump in the lead is the Los Angeles Times/USC poll, which continues to appear to be an outilier amid the ocean of polling out there. As a result of these numbers, the trend in the campaign once again appears to be turning in Clinton’s favor. In the RealClearPolitics head-to-head race, for example, Clinton (48.1%) now enjoys 3.8 point lead over Trump (44.3%), a substantial increase over last week when her average lead was at 2.3 points and two weeks ago when it was at 1.3 points. In a four-way race that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Clinton (43.7%) has a 4.0 point lead over Trump (41.1%) while Johnson stands at 7.0% and Stein at 2.3%. This is an improvement over last week when the RCP average showed Clinton with a 1.5 point average lead, and two weeks ago when it showed Clinton with a 1.1 lead. The Pollster average shows similar improvements for Clinton in both a two-way race and a three-way race that includes Johnson, as do the charts from RealClearPolitics.

Here’s the chart for a two way race:

RCP Two Chart 10416

And here’s the chart for for the four-way race:

RCP Four Way Chart 10416

The reality of a Clinton breakout is also becoming apparent at the state level, where Clinton is seemingly rebuilding her lead in states where it had started slipping even as Donald Trump continues to poll strongly in states that the GOP has had difficulty in over the past several cycles such as Iowa and Ohio. For her part, Clinton has seen her lead expand in states such as New Hampshire, Virginia, and Pennsylvania while also taking slight leads in battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. The result is that the RealClearPolitics Electoral Map now shows Clinton with 205 Electoral Votes to 165 for Trump and 185 Electoral Votes for the thirteen states listed as Toss-Up states. In a map without Toss-Up states, Clinton leads with 322 Electoral Votes to 216 for Donald Trump.

The turn in Clinton’s favor is also reflected in other projections. Nate Silver’s polls-only forecast, for example, projects a 71.9% likelihood of a Clinton victory and a  28.1% chance of a Republican victory while the ‘Polls-Plus’ forecast gives Clinton a  68.7% chance of winning versus 31.2% for Donald Trump and the “Now-cast,” which purports to project would happen if the election were held today, showing a 79.0% chance of a Clinton victory and a 21.0% chance of a Trump victory. These are all significant improvements over where Clinton was over the past two weeks. As was the case last week, Clinton fares slightly better in Sam Wang’s forecast and in Larry Sabato’s forecastThe New York Timesmeanwhile, gives Clinton a 78% chance of winning the race while DailyKosgives Clinton a  72% chance of winning. These are also an improvement over Clinton’s position last week.

If nothing else, what we’ve seen over the past six weeks shows that this year’s Presidential race is following a familiar path. Rather than turning into the blowout that many predicted in the wake of the party conventions, we’ve fallen into the same pattern we have seen in most of the Presidential elections stretching back to at least the 2000 match-up between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and especially since the 2008 race between Barack Obama and John McCain. Under that pattern, the race has generally stayed close until roughly mid-October at which point it starts turning toward the eventual winner decisively. In part, this is due to the impact of the debate, and in part it’s due to the fact that the beginning of early voting means that Americans are starting to make up their minds. For now at least, it appears that the momentum is moving in Hillary Clinton’s favor and that it’s doing so at precisely the right moment. There’s still time for that to change, of course. The upcoming debates could end up having as much of an impact as the first debate is, although it’s worth noting that in years with multiple Presidential debates, it has generally been the first debate that has had the largest viewership and which has had the biggest impact on the state of the race. If that pattern holds, and assuming there are no unforced errors or revelations harmful to the Clinton campaign, then things are looking good for Hillary Clinton right now and they’re only likely to get better as the countdown to Election Day continues.

Previous posts:

With Eleven Weeks To Go, Hillary Clinton Appears To Be Unstoppable
Ten Weeks Out: The Presidential Race Tightens A Bit, But Clinton Still Lead
With Nine Weeks To Go, Clinton’s Post-Convention Bounce Seems To Have Disappeared
With Eight Weeks To Go, A Tighter Race But It’s Still Advantage Clinton
Presidential Race Continues To Tighten With Seven Weeks To Go
Presidential Race Remains Tight Heading Into First Debate

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tony W says:

    As has been said before – Clinton does better when people see her, Trump does better when people think about her. Republican rhetoric – even when it’s BS – is effective.

    Clinton does not have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines waiting for Trump to continue to self-destruct. She also needs to get in front of voters and appear human.

  2. CSK says:

    Well, the Wikileaks “bombshell” that was supposed to end Clinton’s campaign by tomorrow–according to Roger Stone–turned out to be a major league dud.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Yes, what was going on with that? The Balloon-Juicers are peeing themselves with laughter at some of the stuff getting flung out on Twitter.

    The conspiracy-du-jour seems to split between “Hillary got to Assange and threatened him!” vs. “Assange has been in the tank for Hillary from the beginning and is conspiring against us!!”

    I especially liked this sardonic comment:

    Pinning your high hopes of electoral winning on a hideous aussie hiding in Ecuadoran embassy from a hideous rape indictment from sweden and feeding info from russian hackers is the real murkan way.

  4. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Assange did some serious trolling there; apparently the whole thing turned out to be an infomercial for Wikileaks books. (“Forty percent off if you act now!”)

    What I’m seeing from the Chumpkins is mostly that Assange backed down cuz Hillary threatened to have him killed by a drone.

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:


    These people really do live in a parallel reality

  6. CSK says:

    Oh, my. The inimitable Alex Jones of Infowars is not pleased at being trolled by Assange. He just referred to Assange as “Hillary’s butt plug.”

  7. MarkedMan says:

    Momentum? I’m still in the same place: I’ll relax when Clinton stays consistently above 50% in a 4-way race. (i.e. never)

  8. CSK says:


    If you think about it for a moment, how could you be a full-throated Trump supporter and not live in an alternate reality?

    This is why I disagree with those political scientists who contend that this election isn’t much more weird than any other. I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this in my lifetime, and I’ve been following politics since I was twelve.

    The existence of the Internet–an unfiltered medium through which any paranoid crackpot can espouse any bizarro-world conspiracy theory and gain an audience–has much to do with it, I suppose. It used to be that these guys had to stand in Times Square with a sign yelling “Repent! The end is near!” Now they’re all hanging out at Breitbart, Infowars, Lucianne, The Gateway Pundit, and The Conservative Treehouse egging each other on to further heights of lunacy.

  9. James Pearce says:


    The inimitable Alex Jones of Infowars is not pleased at being trolled by Assange


    Buck up, Alex. You’ll NEVER defeat the human spirit……. NEVER, EVER.

  10. al-Alameda says:


    This is why I disagree with those political scientists who contend that this election isn’t much more weird than any other. I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this in my lifetime, and I’ve been following politics since I was twelve.

    I’m with you on this.

    Trump was not even a ‘real’ Republican, he was a kind of political agnostic. I remain convinced that the only reason Trump jumped all-in is because Obama, at the 2011 WH Press Dinner, had fun at the expense of Trump. This was about Trump getting even.

    About the only thing that would have completely wrapped up this election season would be if Democrats had somehow nominated Cliven Bundy or Kanye West.

  11. Argon says:


    These people really do live in a parallel reality

    No parallels there. I’d say it’s living orthogonal to reality.

  12. Pch101 says:


    You have a great deal of selection bias.

    You live in a country that had a significant number of its citizens in a panic in 1938 because they thought that they were being invaded by Martians.

    You live in a country that had a significant number of its citizens in a panic in the 50s because they thought that they were being infiltrated by communists.

    You live in a country that has had a significant number of its citizens in a tizzy for more than a century because they can’t stomach the thought of sharing some DNA with a chimp or their kids sharing a classroom with a black kid.

    There is nothing new about this except that the internet makes it easier for the nutjobs to find each other and for the social observers to observe them in their native habitat.

  13. CSK says:


    For a while in 2011, Trump did consider running in 2012. The White House Correspondents Dinner on April 30, 2011 was the one at which Obama so brilliantly made Trump look like a bloviating fool. (Not hard, I suppose.) Trump dropped out of the presidential race two weeks later, in mid-May. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Obama exposed Trump to the world as a thin-skinned horse’s a$$. So while I’m sure Trump was desperate for vengeance, I’m also sure even he realized it was a no-go at that point.

  14. dmhlt says:


    Well, the Wikileaks “bombshell” that was supposed to end Clinton’s campaign by tomorrow–according to Roger Stone–turned out to be a major league dud.

    Yep. The Deplorables are returning their pitchforks and torches to Walmart en masse.
    Should be able to pick them up real cheap on a “2-for-1 Sale” any day now.

  15. CSK says:


    But the existence of the Internet is the determining or magnifying factor here in the intensity of the organized lunacy.

  16. anjin-san says:


    The existence of the Internet–an unfiltered medium through which any paranoid crackpot can espouse any bizarro

    I look at the “patriot” FB pages that my few Trump supporting friends draw their material from, and it makes Fox News look as if it was run by Edward R. Morrow by comparison.

  17. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: @HarvardLaw92:

    They live in a parallel reality but what an exciting reality! And they’re the only ones in it! Perfect!

  18. Pch101 says:


    Go look at some photos of lynchings, then explain to me how those people were better or saner then than they are now.

    Public executions used to serve as a form of entertainment. Imagine that.

  19. CSK says:


    And, of course, the interesting/ironic/amusing thing is that the Trump supporters have in fact abandoned Fox because they regard it as a left-wing news site run by the ghost of Edward R. Murrow.

    They get their “news” now solely from anonymous crackpot blogs or “sources” such as Alex Jones. (It never seems to bother them that Jones thinks the Brothers Tsarnaev were little innocent lambs framed by the government.)

  20. CSK says:


    I never said they were better or saner back then. I said they were more organized now that they have a worldwide forum like the Internet.

  21. Blue Galangal says:

    @CSK: On a personal note, this has significantly changed my opinion of my neighbors, and not for the better. I drive by a Hillary sign, and where with Obama I used to think, “Yay!,” now I think, “Sane.” That’s the overriding thought in my head. It’s not even tribal at this point. It’s sane vs. insane. I drive by a Trump sign, and I think,” Racist xenophobic misogynistic stupid 3 year old” – because not only are you supporting someone who isn’t qualified to drive a car (let alone lead a nuclear power), you are literally telling the world that you are supporting someone who isn’t qualified to drive a car. I haven’t been this angry about an election since… ever. I used to think Palin was the worst. Clearly I was naive.

  22. Pch101 says:


    It’s astounding that the Klan and Jim Crow and Nazism and the Red Scare were possible without the internet!

    Humans have been doing crazy s**t since, well, forever. Now it’s just easier to Google it.

  23. Jc says:

    @CSK: The fact that Alex Jones youtube channel has 1.7MM subscribers should give anyone pause. People are crazy. Is the internet the hole in the ground on the path of evolution?

  24. CSK says:


    Of course humans have been doing awful things to each other forever. But I maintain that the Internet makes it much easier to spread the poison.

    @Blue Galangal:

    Trump’s in the direct line of descent from Palin, as Obama said the other day and I’ve been saying for at least two years now.


    They’re trading in the pitchforks and torches for guns and ammo.

  25. CSK says:


    Yes, and Breitbart has a huge following, and so do the other crackpots. Of course these people were always with us, but now the really violent, crazy ones have a means to influence the more passive ones and whip them into a frenzy.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Jc: It just makes it easier for the lunatics to congregate.

    Heck, they used to have witch-hunting crazes in Europe….

  27. Tyrell says:

    Some of the news networks are really pushing this VP debate like its the biggest thing since the Kardashians. Evidently they realized they are going up against the first night of the baseball playoffs. Poor scheduling. But few people care about the vp candidates anyway. Most people probably don’t even know who they are. Most people probably don’t know who the current vice president is.
    So this debate will get ratings in there with the “Lawrence Welk Show” and the cable access stations: Saturday yard sale notices, and “free kittens to a loving home”.

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: I’m much more inclined to watch a kitten-cam than the debates….

  29. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Youtube has some great miniature dachshund videos.


    According to an ABC news poll, more than 40% of Americans can’t name either vp candidate.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but I’m getting my jollies by reading reporters’ attempts to explain the physics behind the just-awarded Nobel Prize. Most of them start out, get half-way through the explanation, then just fall into the “it’s really difficult to understand” pose.

    (Try figuring out what a non-trivial mapping of SO(2) would look like in five dimensions and you’ll understand why most topological physicists are always staring off into the distance.)

  31. Slugger says:

    If Trump wins or comes fairly close, it will substantially change the Republican Party. He has many positions that are in contrast to the views of recent Republicans.
    He states that he opposed the Bush II war on Iraq from day one. This is a big turn.
    He has views on trade that are much more like Ross Perot than Bush I.
    He believes in internal industrial policies like restoring the coal industry.
    He believes in a strong chief executive like they have in Russia rather than one restrained by the checks and balances of the US Constitution.
    He made brilliant use of the tax code but promises to change it. Surely, most Republicans favor provisions like the carry forward of losses.
    If you were a Republican from 1992 to 2015, voting for Hillary is your best hope of advancing your views.

  32. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Slugger: what I don’t understand about this whole “restoring the coal industry” business is that they seem to be totally oblivious as to why it has gone POOF. It’s because you guys got all the easily-obtainable stuff out and what’s left is hard to get to. Do they expect the stuff grows like truffles in the ground?!

  33. Electroman says:

    @Grumpy Realist: No, it’s because other forms of energy have gotten cheaper, not because coal is more expensive due to being hard to get to. Northern Appalachian Coal prices are about 15% down over the last year.


  34. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m much more inclined to watch a kitten-cam than the debates….

    I don’t know…Mike Pence is one of the dumbest guys on the planet.
    And he is going to be forced to own Trumpism for a full 90 minutes.
    I just hope Kaine doesn’t blow this.

  35. Scott says:

    @Tyrell: Tonight is National Night Out, so I will be in the front yard with the neighbors drinking beer.

  36. Scott says:

    @Grumpy Realist: Being a Texan, I wonder how the extraction industry here will support the coal industry there. They are competitors after all.

  37. gVOR08 says:


    This is why I disagree with those political scientists who contend that this election isn’t much more weird than any other.

    I dither between thinking things are unusually bad now and thinking things have always been pretty much like this. As absurd as Trump is, he’s polling what, two or three points behind where Romney was at this point. There are Republicans who’ve defected, but almost all think tank types or retired pols. Active pols are staying with the ship. As some GOP operative said, you could put the whole Never Trump movement on a smallish cruise ship. Tribal loyalty isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. It’s not immutable, but it changes very slowly.

    Rove was right. You don’t change votes. But maybe you can encourage or discourage a few votes. To win you work on turnout. I wonder if anybody’s turn out model is any good this year.

  38. Davebo says:


    Natural Gas being so cheap for so long is what’s killing coal as well it should.

    And NG isn’t going to be getting significantly more expensive any time soon.

  39. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So, Clinton has the lead… After the last week, not surprising.


    If we put ALL that stuff aside, then the mood of the stories are starting to look at the man behid the myth.

    And, well, there is a HUGE icky factor:



    I mean….. ewwwwwww.

    Imagine if elected… Do you think he’d feel up Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt?

    Looks like his type: https://www.google.com/search?q=Prime+Minister+Helle+Thorning-Schmidt&biw=1093&bih=479&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiCn4m9-sHPAhVQ4mMKHQt0AdcQ_AUIBygC&dpr=1.25

    Still, can’t wait for the next debate!

  40. JohnMcC says:

    @Pch101: Very very OT. But 100 years ago a town in appalachian TN (Erwin) hanged an elephant. Mary the elephant in a travelling circus killed her trainer so a trial was held and sentence passed. They used a railroad trestle.

    When it comes to stupid sh!t done by the human race exaggeration is impossible.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: I expect coal moguls and gas/oil moguls compete fiercely where their interests conflict. But right now they see a common enemy and both will fight to the last dollar to prevent doing anything about AGW. .

  42. KM says:

    @JohnMcC :

    I just wiki’d that. Absolutely f#cking horrifying. Humans really are bastards sometimes…..

  43. Pch101 says:


    Mary the elephant was sentenced to death without a trial. It was really a lynching.


    Then again, having a justice system (of sorts) didn’t prevent the good people of Salem from executing nineteen humans and two dogs for witchcraft.

  44. Liberal Capitalist says:


    … hung.

    Hung an elephant.

    Sorry, I’m a pedantic grammar freak. I’m in a 12 step program for it, but relapse often.

  45. Pch101 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Hanged is the past tense when referring to the hanging of a human. Hung is used for objects.


    The picture was hung on the wall.

    The convict was hanged at the prison.

    Mary was not a human, but I would used hanged, given the circumstances. Animal meat would be hung, but this animal was executed.

  46. Tony W says:

    @Pch101: I never ceased to be amazed what I am able to learn on this site.

  47. Liberal Capitalist says:


    An awesome distinction!

    Agree, in this case Mary the Elephant deservers the grammatical personification.

    Hanged it is!

    (…and let’s not hear “hunged”… frakin nails on chalkboard, that is.)

  48. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101: @Liberal Capitalist:

    Charlie: They said you was hung.

    Bart: And they was right.

  49. grumpy realist says:

    @Pch101: They are actually from different verbs, it turns out.

    Poking around on the internet, I find this:

    before 900; fusion of 3 verbs: (1) Middle English, Old English hōn to hang (transitive), cognate with Gothic hāhan, orig. *haghan; (2) Middle English hang (i) en, Old English hangian to hang (intransitive), cognate with German hangen; (3) Middle English henge < Old Norse hengja (transitive), cognate with German hängen to hang

  50. CSK says:


    “Excuse me while I whip this out.”

  51. JohnMcC says:

    Many, many apologies for hang-jacking the thread.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:I didn’t watch the debate very closely. Did Pence really say, “You whipped out that Mexican thing again.”? Mike Dense indeed.