Don’t Rush to Judgment on Last Night’s Presidential Debate

The first draft of history often turns out to be wrong once more facts and details come to light. That’s worth keeping in mind after Monday night’s first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The initial consensus of pundits is that Clinton had a better debate but didn’t come close to throwing a knockout punch. And she clearly knew how to bait Trump to keep him off balance and on the defensive.

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For Clinton and Trump, Big Debate, Small Target

Keep this number in mind if you watch Monday night’s first presidential debate: 20%. That’s the slice of the American electorate that isn’t supporting either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump at the moment and, thus, the segment most likely to be swayed by what they see and hear.

Here’s my math: Approximately 40% of likely voters responding to polls in September say they will support Clinton and a similar number say they’re backing Trump. To the degree that those numbers change–a tick or two either way–the support seems to come from the one in five folks who seem to have plans that don’t include either of the mainstream candidates.

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Can a Rural Congressional District Make Trump President?

What if the presidential election comes down to a congressional district that’s so rural that, as The Almanac of American Politics puts it, “some valleys have more moose than people”? It’s not a fantasy. There’s a plausible path that could make voters in northern Maine’s 2nd Congressional District kingmakers on Election Day.

Maine and Nebraska are the only states that award one electoral vote to the candidate that carries each congressional district. The distinction usually doesn’t matter, but this year it’s not such a longshot bet to think that one of Maine’s electoral votes could go to Donald Trump and put him in the White House.

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