Clinton-Trump race too close to call although Democrats outspending Republicans seven to one

The horse race is now hitting the home stretch; there are exactly 50 days left until the election, and Politico has produced an assessment of where things stand. What sticks out like a sore thumb is the imbalance in investment between the two candidates. As GOP operative David Kochel observes, “There has never been such a wide disparity in resource allocation as we’re seeing in 2016.”

One obvious area in which this distinction shows up is television commercials. Thus far, Hillary Clinton and her super PACs have dropped $244 million on TV advertising, compared to $33 million for Trump. That has translated into Clinton airing seven commercials for every one that Trump airs, covering nine battleground states to The Donald’s four. It is far and away the biggest margin in recent memory; Obama 2012 faced a five-to-four margin while for McCain 2008 it was two-to-one.

Similarly, Clinton has vastly more ground game than Trump. In the swingiest states, Clinton usually outdoes Trump by a margin of two-to-one or more. For example, she has 250 staffers and 50 offices in Ohio; Trump has 110 and 30. She has over 250 staffers and 30 offices in North Carolina; he has 170 and 10. She has 100 staffers and 25 offices in New Hampshire; he has 50 staffers and a mere handful of offices. In less-swingy states, Trump often has little or no infrastructure.

Needless to say, these differences are a byproduct of the money the two campaigns have raised. Through the end of July, the last time FEC paperwork was due, Clinton and her allies had raised a combined $435 million while Trump and his allies had tallied $160 million. Trump’s team is trying to catch up (see below), but it often takes a lot of money to raise money, such that he and his PACs would need to pile up something like $400 million to make up the $275 million gap.

Of course, the most important question is, “Will this matter?” The general perception is that ground game is worth 1-3 points on Election Day, while the value of television ads is more fungible. However, this election is not like others, both in terms of the candidates running, and in terms of the current state of the media. As Kochel notes, “The fact that the numbers have moved gradually in Trump’s favor in spite of the onslaught of spending by Hillary causes a lot of head-scratching. But the voters are getting their information in a thousand different ways outside of the campaigns’ control.”

Today there are polls of every state from IPSOS and it does make for disheartening reading for the Clinton campaign and buoyant news for Trump’s. What is crucial is that Colorado has been trending for Trump of late, Maine and Michigan (solid Blue states for decades) virtually tied, New Mexico and Nevada close but still favouring Trump and Wisconsin within reach for the billionaire. The only good news for Clinton is that Florida can be in play again, Ohio also looks close and North Carolina is within reach. However everything is changing almost every day so we really cannot pin any of the battleground states down at this stage.

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Alabama 40% 53% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Arkansas 41% 51% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Arizona 39% 46% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
California 63% 24% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Colorado 40% 43% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Connecticut 47% 37% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Delaware 43% 28% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Florida 41% 40% 9% Sep 10 Sep 14 Siena Coll.
Florida 46% 50% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Georgia 40% 48% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Georgia 42% 45% 8% Sep 15 Sep 18 Monmouth U.
Iowa 41% 49% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Idaho 32% 56% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Illinois 43% 30% 8% Sep 13 Sep 16 Loras College
Illinois 51% 36% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Indiana 33% 53% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Kansas 39% 49% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Kentucky 35% 54% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Louisiana 34% 54% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Massachusetts 53% 31% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Maryland 53% 29% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Maine 41% 40% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Michigan 44% 44% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Minnesota 44% 34% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Missouri 36% 53% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Mississippi 37% 51% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Montana 39% 52% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
North Carolina 46% 44% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Nebraska 32% 51% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
New Hampshire 48% 39% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
New Jersey 49% 33% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
New Mexico 38% 43% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Nevada 38% 41% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
New York 53% 30% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Ohio 47% 44% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Oklahoma 32% 53% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Oregon 44% 41% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Pennsylvania 46% 44% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
South Carolina 43% 51% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Tennessee 26% 50% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Texas 29% 51% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Utah 29% 48% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos
Virginia 47% 38% Sep 09 Sep 15 Ipsos
Washington 47% 37% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
Wisconsin 43% 40% Sep 02 Sep 15 Ipsos
West Virginia 39% 49% Aug 26 Sep 15 Ipsos