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Washington (CNN)Shifting terrain in three battlegrounds, the ‘debate expectations’ game in full effect, and how historically black colleges and universities factor into 2016. It’s all a part of our ‘Inside Politics’ forecast.
1) Battleground Ohio: Trump has momentum — and Clinton Is MIA
Is Hillary Clinton conceding Ohio?
Georgia and Arizona are two traditionally red presidential states that have come up as potential Clinton targets this year. The smart money is that both stay red.
But The Atlantic’s Molly Ball recently traveled to Arizona for some on the ground reporting, and suggests that while Democrats know it is difficult terrain, they still see possibilities as we shift into the final six weeks.
“It’s a been a solidly red state but both campaigns are actually making a play for it on the presidential level and they both acknowledge it shouldn’t be in play in a normal year,” explained Ball. “But this is not a normal year and a combination of the split in the Republican party over Trump and an unusually mobilized Latino electorate may bring that state on to the board depending on how things go nationally.”
4) HBCU campuses are busy — especially in the battlegrounds
There are more than 100 campuses with the designation Historically Black University and Colleges, and so it is not a surprise that these are organizing hotbeds as the campaign season winds down.
Eleven of those campuses are in North Carolina, making them a key battleground-within-a-battleground state that Donald Trump must win to have a viable path to 270 electoral votes.
CNN’s Nia Malika Henderson shared reporting on how the campaigns are looking for votes at HBCUs.
“You see Hillary Clinton rolled out a plan, $25 million in funding to private HBCUs,” she said. “But you’re also seeing Republicans be on campuses. HBCU campuses in North Carolina, RNC officials in Charlotte, they are planning to have a presence…in some of these homecoming events as well, which are huge events where the alumni and students gather and so we’ll see that in October.”
5) Debate expectations: remember — they are applying for the same job!
Yes, there are different goals and priorities as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton prepare for their first debate.
And yes, Hillary Clinton has more experience at these things.
But does that mean the bar is lower for Donald Trump when it comes to grading their performance? There will be a lot of “expectations game” chatter in the next two days, but much of it is useless.
This is a smart take: veteran pollster Peter Hart says Donald Trump’s challenge is professional; Hillary Clinton’s more personal.
As far as what Trump’s weaknesses are, the view is he isn’t up to speed on policy, and doesn’t have the temperament to be president. And Clinton is viewed as deeply experienced and prepared, but many voters doubt her honesty and whether she understands the pressures in their lives.
Assessments like that are helpful as we watch the 90-minute encounter unfold. You can also look at strengths and weaknesses in polling to get a sense of why each candidate might seem to be targeting their answers to a specific audience.
But the bottom line is this: the two candidates are now at the job interview phase. The title is the same. The winner gets the same house, the same office, the same challenges and, yes, the same salary.
So, in my view, they should be graded on the same standard.