From the first Morning Jolt of the week:
The Candidates Are the Same, but the Political Environment Is Changing
Why should tonight’s debate change the race? Both candidates are extremely well-known to almost the entire voting public. They’ve been in the public eye for decades. Their flaws are well-known, their scandals are well-known, and their advantages are well-known. They have been making variations of their arguments since last summer or even earlier.
Hillary Clinton roared out to a huge lead after the Democratic convention, but has steadily lost that lead in August and September. They’re the same candidates as six weeks ago. The arguments for her, tepid they may be, are still there: She’s the experienced one. She’s the one who knows the details of policy. The Clintons have been synonymous with the Democratic Party’s governance since 1992. The arguments against him are still there.
So what changed? Events. The FBI released its investigation notes, showing there was plenty of evidence to press charges, and that Clinton claimed she couldn’t remember whether she had been briefed on key security issues. She suffered a short-lived but seemingly serious health issue at Ground Zero. Bombs detonated in New York and New Jersey. North Korea held another nuclear test. Charlotte erupted in riots. Cincinnati had 174 overdoses in six days, more than 1,000 in a two-month span in Hamilton County, Ohio.
This is a bad environment for the candidate of the status quo, much worse than early August, when Clinton had that huge lead. Decision time is getting closer; Americans are already casting ballots. The casual voters might be a little more tuned-in to the news and less oblivious to the problems around them.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Colorado, which might be the most dramatically-changing state in the past month.
At the beginning of September, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a lead of almost ten points over Donald Trump in Colorado in the RealClearPolitics average. She now leads by… two-tenths of a percentage point. The surveys from CNN, Gravis, and Emerson show Trump ahead; CBS, Quinnipiac and Rocky Mountain PBS show Hillary Clinton ahead.