Donald Trump was practically booed offstage at a charity dinner in New York City last night, proving that there really are very few safe places left for the Republican presidential candidate at this stage in an election that has plainly slipped away from him.
And, like the white-tie clad grandees at the Al Smith Dinner who heckled Trump last night as he struggled through what was meant to be a light-hearted set of remarks about the election, states that are normally reliably Republican are turning their backs on the GOP nominee this year and preparing to throw their electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics has been tracking the election from the start, and the latest iteration of the electoral map from Sabato’s Crystal Ball suggests a widespread repudiation of Trump even in states Republicans typically find most congenial. The current Sabato projection shows Clinton with 352 likely electoral votes and Trump with only 173, leaving only 13 too close to call.
For the Trump campaign, the bleeding is now largely out of control.
“A striking development in recent days has been the smattering of polling showing Trump with weak leads in some reliably Republican states,” write Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley. “He’s barely ahead in some polls of Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas — states that shouldn’t be close in any competitive election.”
Most remarkable is what’s happening in the Southwest. Utah, the most reliably Republican state in the union, is now considered a toss-up. The Beehive state’s large proportion of Mormon voters is so thoroughly turned off by Trump that an insurgent candidacy by Independent Evan McMullin, a Mormon himself who attended college at Brigham Young University in Provo is threatening to claim its six electoral votes.
Utah’s neighbor to the South, Arizona, has also been a GOP stronghold in recent elections. But no longer, in the view of the Crystal Ball team.
“This is something of a leap of faith, but we’re moving Arizona all the way from Leans Republican to Leans Democratic,” they wrote. “If we were basing this just on polls, Toss-up would be the designation, but we’re trying to project a little bit here. We just don’t see Trump making a dramatic recovery nationally, and he may not be able to fight off the Clinton ambush in a Latino-rich state where he should be solidly ahead. Of all the states that voted for both [2008 GOP nominee John] McCain and [2012 nominee Mitt] Romney, Arizona appears to be the most vulnerable for Trump.”
With the election now just 18 days away, the prognosis is as clear as it is stark.
“Our conclusion is simple,” they write. “As we reassess our Electoral College ratings, we don’t think any new states are moving toward Trump at this point, and there are some surprising conservative places where he is registering very thin, soft support.”
They add, “With less than three weeks to go, and all of the debates blessedly in the rearview mirror, Clinton is in a commanding position in the contest to become the 45th president.”