How Clinton and Trump are strategizing with two weeks to go

Politics

JUDY WOODRUFF: With just over two weeks until Election Day, we turn now to our Politics Monday duo, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. She joins us from Dallas.

Fifteen days, but who's counting?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: We are.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: We certainly are.

So, Donald Trump today, Amy, is out there saying all the polls, which mainly show Hillary Clinton ahead, are phony. He's talking about phony media, don't pay any attention to it.

What are we to believe? Is it possible that most of these polls are wrong?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, Judy, you can believe a lot of things. You can also believe maybe that a meteor is going to come crashing to Earth in the next 15 days.

But it's hard to believe of the 31 polls that we have seen over the last month, all but three of them have shown Hillary Clinton leading, are all wrong. In fact, the big major polling operations out there, CNN, ABC News, FOX, all have Clinton ahead anywhere between five and 11 points.

And so I believe that the polls have a margin of error? Absolutely, but the reality is, is that all the polls, whether they are national polls, whether they are state polls, are showing an unmistakable pattern, and that is a movement to Hillary Clinton. And it's increased enthusiasm from Democrats.

Interestingly, we talked about this last week, Judy, but the attention that Donald Trump has been giving on the trail about vote rigging and about the media and about dishonesty may actually be depressing his own voters. Democrats, at least in the most recent polls, were seeming much more enthusiastic about supporting Hillary Clinton, much more enthusiastic about coming out to vote.

And, remember, early voting has started in a lot of these states. So many of these states, more than half of their votes come through early voting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tam, you're talking to people in the campaigns all the time.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there any undercurrent of suspicion out there that maybe there is something wrong with the polls this year?

TAMARA KEITH: Well, there is suspicion coming from the Trump campaign, but there is not suspicion coming from the Clinton campaign.

Their internal polls, from what they have told us from time to time, have matched the public polls or showed them actually in a better position than the public polls. And they do their polling differently, their internal polling differently. They match it up with voters files, and they feel very confident about where they stand.

Trump has actually today pointed to an e-mail released by WikiLeaks, a John Podesta e-mail, saying that they're oversampling certain voters. That was an e-mail from 2008. Donald Trump wasn't running for president in 2008.

You know, this is a case of a candidate who has built his campaign on winning, and now he's trying to deal with evidence on the ground that indicates that, at this moment and probably going forward, winning is not something that is apparent in any of the public polls really.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, you have been looking at polls for a number of elections. You have been doing this for a while. So, how far ahead is Hillary Clinton? What can she count on at this point, or if anything?

AMY WALTER: Well, Judy, thanks for that. Yes, I'm very old.

(LAUGHTER)

AMY WALTER: I have been doing this for a long time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Not around as long as some of us. Let's put it that way.

(LAUGHTER)

AMY WALTER: If you look at — what I like to do is to look at an average of polls, rather than taking one poll and spending too much time on that.

So, a number of these Web sites now aggregate polls. They put their own trend lines together. And what they're showing is Hillary Clinton up anywhere between five and six points nationally. That's going to translate differently in different states.

But just to give you an idea of what five or six points looks like at the Electoral College level, remember, Barack Obama won by about four points in 2012, easily carried the Electoral College. He won by more than 10 million votes in 2008, by about six, seven points. He had 323 electoral votes — I'm sorry — 365 electoral votes in 2008.

So a six-point national average translates to a pretty big electoral margin, maybe not as big as Barack Obama's in 2008. The one challenge that Hillary Clinton has is, she's still struggling in a place — in two places that Obama carried, Iowa and Ohio. But she's obviously doing better in Arizona and Georgia.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tam, what we do see is that the Clinton camp, Hillary Clinton, is expanding the focus.

Yes, they're campaigning for her, but she's talking about these Senate candidates. We heard that in Lisa's piece a few minutes ago. How comfortable do they feel spending time and resources on that?

TAMARA KEITH: Clearly — and also the super PAC that is allied with Hillary Clinton is also shifting its resources, shifting some of its focus to the Senate.

So, the Clinton campaign at this point is very confident that they can get to 270 electoral votes. And they are now running a campaign that is very much also about — conveniently, many of the competitive Senate races also happen to be in the swing states. But they are running a campaign that is about trying to make sure that she has a Democratic Senate to work with for things like Supreme Court nominees and other nominees.

And, initially, her campaign focus, they treated Donald Trump as an outlier. They said, you know, he's not a Republican. They were trying to win over moderate Republicans. Now they're saying, all of these Republican Senate candidates, they stuck by him, they enabled him, they didn't disavow him enough. And they're trying to sort of hang Donald Trump on them, even though — even though — yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know what you mean.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: We know what you mean.

But, Tam, there's one other thing I do want to ask you about.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You have been reporting lately on this growing sense out there on the campaign trail or commentary that is — and the treatment of women, attitudes toward women. And you wrote about it just the other day.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

So, basically, that story says it was inevitable that sexism would have a presence in a campaign with a woman running to be president of the United States, be the first female president of the United States. It was inevitable with Hillary Clinton that — especially — that there's been negativity about her coming from the Republican side for as long as she's been in the public eye.

She's a disruptive figure. But what wasn't inevitable is that her opponent would actively cede and fuel that sexism with things like the woman card.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

TAMARA KEITH: And I talk to Republican political operatives who say, if this were a different candidate, it probably wouldn't have been this overt. It certainly wouldn't have been coming from the lectern of the person that was running for president.

And they believe that that is going to contribute to what is likely the largest gender gap in history, with women overwhelmingly favoring Hillary Clinton. And that nasty woman comment became sort of a crystallizing moment for a lot of voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And very quickly, Amy, that's what a lot of people are looking at, isn't it, the gap, the gender gap.

AMY WALTER: The gender gap, and, again, one piece, of course, being Hillary Clinton, who she is, and the other, of course, Donald Trump and the comments he's made throughout the campaign and the judgments that he's made. And that's going to be a big piece of this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Amy Walter, who's only been covering politics for a very short time, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

AMY WALTER: Very short.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Tamara Keith.

Politics Monday, thank you both.

TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.

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