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State of the presidential race two weeks from Election Day

Two weeks out from Election Day, polls are showing Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton: RealClearPolitics’ average of polls shows Clinton with a five-point lead, and CBS News’ own poll published a week ago had Clinton up by nine points. Historically, according to past CBS News/New York Times polls, the person leading at this point in the race was the eventual winner.

Fourteen days from Election Day in 1976, Jimmy Carter led Gerald Ford 45 percent to 40 percent. By this time in 1992, Bill Clinton had opened up a huge lead over incumbent George H.W. Bush, 50 to 33 percent.

And in 2000 as Bill Clinton was finishing his second term, George W. Bush led Clinton’s vice president Al Gore by 2 points, 44 to 42 percent.  Eight years later, then-candidate Barack Obama led John McCain by a comfortable 13-point margin, 52 to 39 percent.

On Monday, the Trump campaign released a memo outlining his path to victory, saying that if he wins New Hampshire, Colorado or Pennsylvania, he could win the election. The memo pointed to recent polls showing Trump ahead in Iowa, Ohio, Maine, Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.

Here’s the map that the Trump campaign sent to supporters -- the Trump campaign sees the states colored blue as those that favor Clinton, while it says it “can safely assume” the red states will vote for Trump, with the remaining gray states “too close to call.” 

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Trump campaign’s map with path to 270 electoral votes, Oct. 24, 2016

Donald Trump campaign

For the sake of comparison, here’s CBS News’ sense of the battleground -- shades of blue states are likely, leaning or edging Clinton, and shades of red are likely, leaning or edging Trump. Yellow states are tossups. 

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CBS News Battleground map, Oct. 25, 2016

CBS News

So, how does the Trump memo square with the data available? CBS News Elections Director Anthony Salvanto says Trump “is down in most of those states” -- that is, the ones he’s looking to for victory. 

And “he’s down in the Electoral College overall,” Salvanto said on “CBS This Morning,” “but that doesn’t mean he’s out.” But the suggestion by some in the Trump campaign that his polling may be lower because some voters may not be admitting they’ll vote for him does not seem to be credible.

“Voters in polls tell you what they’re going to do. We’ve seen that over time. We’ve seen that Donald Trump’s voters are willing to talk about Donald Trump,” he said. “They’re proud of it, and they’re telling that to pollsters. They say in the polls they’re telling their friends, they’re telling their families, so they’re not shy about it.” 

The problem for Trump is that even in Florida, where over a million votes have already been cast in early voting, “you don’t see a lot of new votes coming in,” said Salvanto. “Most of the people who have voted have voted in past presidential elections.” In a CBS News Battleground Tracker Florida poll released Sunday, Clinton edged Trump by three points, 46 to 43 percent.

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To win, Trump would need to see more Republican voters coming home -- his running mate has been making this very appeal to GOP voters consistently on the campaign trail.

“Now it’s time to reach out to all of our Republican and conservative friends and say with one voice, it’s time to come home. It’s time to come together to ensure that Hillary Clinton is never elected president of the United States,” Pence declared Monday in North Carolina. Trump has been lagging Clinton on this measure: “She’s got nine in 10 Democrats,” Salvanto says, which is not the case for Trump and his party.

Trump, said Salvanto, still has around 20 percent of Republicans -- whom he calls the “reluctant Republicans” -- largely suburban women -- who have been reluctant to support him. On this measure, he has been running 10 points behind Clinton in state after state, especially college-educated women, all of whom have been reluctant to come over to his side. “If he can rally that base back to him, then he gets a lot closer,” Salvanto said on “CBS This Morning.”

With college-educated white voters -- with white men and white women -- Turmp is still winning, “but he’s not winning them by the kind of margins that Republicans typically do,” Salvanto said. Another concern for Trump is the Latinos who say they “can’t wait to vote.” But Texas still leans Republican, and Salvanto isn’t sure that Clinton “is positioned to outright win Texas.” The CBS News Battleground Tracker poll released Sunday found Trump leads Clinton 46 to 43 percent in Texas.”

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