Two weeks ago, supporters of Donald Trump were predicting he would be the first Republican presidential nominee to carry Michigan since 1988.
An Ipsos-Reuters poll conducted in late September showed the GOP nominee tied with Hillary Clinton — at 39 percent each — among likely voters in the Water Wonderland.
All that is ancient history, as seasoned Michigan political observers now speculate Trump could lose the state by such a big margin that it could endanger Republicans running for lower offices.
"An EPIC-MRA poll in the past week, after the first debate and before the latest incident"— the 11-year-old tape of Trump’s bus conversation with crude language about women — "had her leading him by 43 percent to 32 percent in Michigan," said Bill Ballenger, former editor of the venerable "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter.
"What this will do, and whether Wikileak's release of Hillary's Wall Street [speeches in which she's quoted endorsing "open borders"] will have a countervailing effect."
Ballenger tells Newsmax "how well Trump does in the Sunday debate is anybody's guess."
"The wisdom up to this time has been that Trump's performance has not been hurting down-ballot Republican campaigns for Congress, the state House, and so on," he said, quickly adding, however, "This has been such a weird, day-to-day election cycle, with so many unexpected developments, that nobody can be sure what is going to happen next."
"Trump has had real strength in all Michigan polls in key geographical locations in Michigan, particularly blue-collar areas such as northern Michigan, Macomb County, and some areas of Down River Wayne County," he said.
"However, if he collapses completely and loses as badly as John McCain did in 2008" — by 17 percentage points — "it will hurt the Republicans. The only question is by how much."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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