From Las Vegas, Nevada -
With the final debate behind them, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump moved out on the campaign trail Thursday, with a little more than two and a half weeks left in their marathon quest to win the White House.
Clinton and her campaign staff left here feeling upbeat about the third and last debate, and her standing in the polls, while Trump aides defiantly said they stand a very good chance to win.
"I think they saw a strong leader in Donald Trump," said Trump spokesman Jason Miller said of the voters who watched the third Trump-Clinton debate.
Let's take a quick snapshot of where things are right now:
1. Trump's election answer remains the headline. One UNLV professor told me that Trump's very public refusal to proclaim that he would accept the results of an election loss was "unprecedented in American history." Democrats slammed Trump, as some immediately planned to use the Trump statement against GOP lawmakers running for re-election in the Congress. "Trump's refusal to accept results of upcoming elections is horrifying," said Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Even some Republicans said much the same, like Trump critic, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ):
2. The schedule tells a story. The schedules for both Trump and Clinton in coming days give us a little window into where each campaign thinks he/she can win, and where he/she still needs to do work for November. Trump will be in Ohio today, North Carolina and Pennsylvania on Friday, Virginia on Saturday and back to Ohio on Sunday. Hillary Clinton hits Ohio tomorrow, New Hampshire on Monday and Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Clinton will also have some high profile singers out on the stump for her in coming days, as John Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez will stump for the Democratic nominee.
3. Republicans continue to fight each other. While Election Day isn't here yet, different factions of the GOP are already positioning themselves for a fight that could lead to a formal challenge later this year to House Speaker Paul Ryan. New polling numbers out yesterday showed a dramatic shift against Ryan, who has been the subject of repeated jabs from Trump, as well as from prominent hosts in the talk radio community. There has been a lot of talk about a civil war amongst Republicans, and if they suffer big losses on Election Day, the finger pointing may be epic.
4. What to think about the polls? I have tried my best to stay away from writing about the horse race of the polls in recent years, opting more for a broad look at polling averages and a general sense of where the momentum is going. Now that we are even closer to Election Day, it is important not to simply embrace polls that fit your view of the race (sort of like wish-casting with hurricanes). If you thought that Emerson polls were bad a few months ago, then you shouldn't be trumpeting their poll from Utah that shows Evan McMullin ahead. As for Georgia and Texas, I still find it hard to believe that Democrats will win there. My best advice, don't jump to conclusions. Election Day isn't that far away. You can wait to see the actual results, though I understand many people can't!
5. Clinton still has a big edge on TV. Unlike the usual strategy of a campaign for President, Donald Trump has spent comparatively little money on television advertising, a point he often boasts about on the trail. We'll see in a few weeks if that was a good idea or not.
Democrats believe they have the advantage now. We'll see what happens in coming days, both on the campaign trail and in the polls.