One week after Donald J. Trump's first presidential debate – and amid a disastrous string of days – his poll numbers reflect a slide, but he has still kept the race stubbornly close, given the lack of discipline he displayed.
In Pennsylvania, the Franklin & Marshall College poll released Tuesday morning showed the energy has shifted back to Clinton, said Terry Madonna, a political scientist who conducted the poll.
"But she has serious problems in the Philadelphia collar counties," he said.
The poll which showed Clinton up 9 percentage points, surveyed 813 registered voters, including 496 who said they are likely to vote in the Nov. 8 election. The margin of error for likely voters is 6.1 percent.
"Her big problem is that she is losing the collar counties by 26 percentage points," he said. "You can't do that and win the key battleground state of Pennsylvania if you don't have the support of the African American and millennial votes that [President Barack] Obama had."
Madonna said, in this cycle, Pennsylvania's polls could easily fluctuate away from Clinton back to Trump.
"This race is crazy and like a tidal force. If she has a bad week, it can got back to his favor," he said.
Battleground state polls that included other important states like Florida and North Carolina as well as several national polls show Hillary Clinton with impressive gains averaging a 5-point advantage among likely voters – yet she is still haunted by her inability to engage white working-class voters, which keeps the race closer than experts imagined.
Which explains why the Clinton campaign held an event Tuesday in Braddock, Pa., with the top U.S. Steelworkers union officials in an effort to convince those blue-collar males to support her candidacy over Trump, who has found broad appeal among this typical Democratic voting constituency.
In Ohio, Clinton fell further behind to Trump by 5 percentage points, a state that went for Barack Obama twice — but she gained ground in Colorado, Florida and Virginia, according to a string of new polls.
Clinton is in the region of 2-3 percentage points better than she was going into the debate – where both candidates were essentially sitting on a tie. Live interview polls conducted by the major news networks in the past week show Clinton edging stronger than Trump.
Trump took that hit largely because both he and Clinton made the debate, and all of the stories after the debate, about him. If the election is about him, she gets a boost. If the election is about her, he gets a boost.
"But if the election is about the future, he gets the advantage," said Alex Castellanos, founding partner and GOP media consultant at Purple Strategies in Washington.
"Hillary Clinton could win this election if only people didn't have to vote for her, people are hungry to find a way to vote for her, ordinarily she might have gotten a bigger pump out of the debate, if it wasn't her that voters had to swing towards [her]," Castellanos said of Clinton's remarkably low post-debate bump.
Clinton's uptick is a common one that happens frequently after big events like conventions or debates, Castellans said.
"In this cycle, it is highly questionable to determine if it is true voter shift or a reaction," he added.
"Either way I expect we will see many shifts back and forth going up until the election day," Madonna said.
Salena Zito covers national politics for Newsmax.
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