Donald Trump has undoubtedly had one of his better polling weeks of the campaign, even better than the Republican National Convention week, because this isn’t some temporary bounce that’s guaranteed to dissipate.
But structurally the race still favors Hillary Clinton.
The problem for Trump is that the battleground tilts one way: toward states won by George W. Bush in his two victories. Instead of having opportunities to win states from the other side, all he’s doing is trying to claw back to the smallest of wins. He’s not expanding the map at all!
Take the Real Clear Politics toss-up list, broken into three categories:
States won by Bush twice: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia (117 electoral votes)
States won by Al Gore and John Kerry: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine, Wisconsin (48 electoral votes)
States won by Bush once: New Hampshire, Iowa (10 electoral votes)
This means that the battleground runs nearly 5:2 against Republicans, by giving Democrats the chance to win Republican must-win states, without giving Republicans the chance to win Democrat must-win states.
That’s why, in the RCP map, the Democrats hold a 30 EV structural advantage, even now with Trump polling better than he ever has! He’s behind because he’s failing to expand the map. California is Safe Democrat, but Texas is merely Leans Republican. You just don’t win elections that way.
Trump must expand the map if he wants to become the favorite in this race.
Edit: The illustrious Gerry Dales notices I missed New Mexico in the states won by Bush once. Point stands though, the math unchanged.