Don’t Count Donald Out In Michigan

Ian Shetron Researcher, Luntz Global Partners
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Donald Trump’s Halloween stop in Michigan left many political watchers around the country scratching their heads. Two rallies – a full day – in a state RealClearPolitics has Hillary Clinton at a 6.7-point advantage – in the final week of the campaign. What is Donald playing at?

National commentators wrote off Trump’s stop in the Great Lakes State as a head fake, forcing Clinton to divert time and resources from other winnable states.

But today, Donald Trump Jr. is traveling to Michigan on his father’s behalf for another full day of campaigning in East Lansing and Allendale. His sister Ivanka will make an appearance tonight in Troy.

This is no head fake. This is a touchdown attempt.

Donald Trump’s numbers struggled throughout October in the wake of the Access Hollywood video release. But Trump steadied the ship with his performance in the final two debates. He began experiencing a surge in the polls just last week, topped off by the announcement on Friday that FBI Director Comey was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The seas changed, and The Donald got back on his feet.

As recently as October 21st, the RCP average had Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in Michigan 45.3 to 33.7, a spread of 11.6. Today, the race stands at 46 to 39.3. That’s almost a five point tightening in 11 days, nearly cutting Secretary Clinton’s lead in half.

So the momentum is in Mr. Trump’s favor. But a 6.7-point advantage is nothing to sneeze at.

Mr. Trump’s team is still banking on undecided voters breaking for him big league. And for the polls to overestimate Hillary’s lead.

It’s not out of the question. Just ask Bernie Sanders.

Michigan’s Democratic primary was a lock for Hillary Clinton, not just according to the pollsters, but to virtually every honest political pundit. Clinton came into primary day with a 21.4-point advantage in the RCP average, with the final statewide polls giving her upwards of 60 percent of the vote. Senator Sanders ended up winning 49.8% to her 48.3%.

Hillary Clinton’s team already sensed this elasticity in her support in Michigan. That brought them to send campaign surrogate Cher for several stops in the state on Monday, and will also (ironically) bring Bernie Sanders on Wednesday for a pair of rallies. The candidate herself will make a last-minute attempt to shore up support in Detroit on Friday.

The political winds have shifted, and they’re favoring Donald Trump.

Will the fair winds last until November 8? It is difficult to say. News cycles and attention spans are short. However, it is clear that Michigan is in play, and may even be a fight to the finish, as Mr. Trump has perhaps the best chance of turning Michigan red since 1988.