WASHINGTON — It is nearly three months before the U.S. presidential election, but numerous analysts are now saying there is more than an 80 percent likelihood that Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State, will defeat Republican Donald Trump, the brash real estate tycoon running for his first elected office.
There are 12 weeks of campaigning remaining before the November 8 election to replace President Barack Obama when he leaves office next January, along with three scheduled debates between Clinton and Trump in September and October that could change the fortunes for either candidate.
But at the moment, the analysts see the race tipping heavily in Clinton’s favor, with her lead holding at a steady seven-percentage point advantage in national polling and growing margins in key state election battlegrounds where U.S. presidential elections are decided. The quadrennial U.S. presidential contests are not determined by the national popular vote, but rather on the outcome of the voting in the 50 states, with each state’s importance in the electoral college determined by its population and the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress.
In as many as 40 of the states, voters in election after election have sided with Democrats or Republicans, while the outcome in the other 10, where political allegiances are not as ingrained, has often switched from one party to the other depending who the candidates are or the political issues of the moment.
It is in these election battleground states where some of the analysts say that Clinton is already amassing a majority of 270 or more of the 538 electoral college votes needed to make her the country’s 45th president and its first female commander in chief.
The New York Times, the «538» election prediction web site, the Princeton Election Consortium and PredictWise all say that Clinton has an 80 percent or more chance of winning, with political analysts Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato and the team of Stuart Rothenberg and Nathan Gonzales all saying the election is tipping toward her.
Post convention boost
Both Trump, who surged past more seasoned Republican officials to claim the party’s presidential nomination, and Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, enjoyed new support in political surveys in the aftermath of the Republican and Democratic national conventions last month. After the Republican convention, Trump pulled into a virtual tie in national surveys with Clinton, but she quickly regained the edge after the Democratic convention and polls uniformly show her ahead at the moment.
Long-time political guru Cook said with the two political conventions ended, the national race is not over, but is «one that is fully developed.»
He added, «Many observers have noted that in the last six decades of modern presidential polling, the candidate with the lead in the polls two weeks after the final convention has always won. We see this race settling into a very high probability that Hillary Clinton prevails over Donald Trump, though the size of the margin is still up in the air.»
But Trump’s fortunes have fallen quickly in the last two weeks with his controversial comments about the Muslim-American parents of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq in 2004 after they voiced their support for Clinton.
Trump also suggested that Russia hack into Clinton’s computer to find thousands of her discarded emails and falsely claimed that Obama and she were the founders of the Islamic State militant group. He later said both comments were meant as sarcasm.
The «538» site that has had a very accurate election prediction model in past presidential contests says there is more than a 90 percent chance that Clinton wins the national popular vote and a more than 88 percent chance she wins the electoral college and the presidency.
The New York Times rates her chances at 87 percent, saying that its computer analysis of state-by-state contests currently show that Clinton has 1,011 ways to amass the majority 270 electoral college votes, while Trump has but 10.
Trump has hardly conceded, however, unveiling a plan Monday to combat Islamic terrorism and claiming that Clinton «lacks the mental and physical stamina» needed to fight the jihadists.
She in turn said that Trump is «temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States and totally unqualified.»
But Trump last week offered a fatalistic assessment of the state of his campaign against Clinton, saying that if he loses, «I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation.»
At a voter registration event Tuesday in the eastern city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Clinton acknowledged that her campaign is «doing fine right now,» but warned against being over-confident in the eventual outcome.
Clinton said she is «not taking anybody, anywhere for granted» in the election. «We’re going to work hard the next 85 days,» she said.
Trump is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Midwestern city where there are continuing protests over the fatal shooting of an armed black man by a black police officer last weekend. Trump is meeting with law enforcement officers, holding a town hall gathering with voters and speaking at a political rally.