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Last week, Politico reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was set to employ a “run out the clock” strategy, declining to respond to recurring controversies even at the risk of seeming nonresponsive. In the abstract, such a strategy could make sense. Clinton has a fairly clear lead in the polls. There are only 10 weeks to go until the Nov. 8 election — and less than that until early voting, which begins in late September in some states.
But Clinton shouldn’t get too complacent. After mixed evidence before, it’s become clearer, at least according to our forecast models, that Donald Trump has regained some ground on her. Clinton’s national lead in our polls-only forecast has gone from a peak of about 8.5 percentage points two weeks ago to 6.5 percentage points as of Sunday evening — that is, a 2-point gain for Trump over two weeks. Correspondingly, Trump’s chances of winning the election have improved from a low of 11 percent to 19 percent.
Trump’s gains have been more modest in our polls-plus forecast, which discounted Clinton’s early August polls because of a potential convention bounce and which anticipated that the race would tighten. In polls-plus, which forecasts that Clinton’s margin over Trump will narrow to roughly 4 percentage points by Election Day, the clock is more of an ally to Clinton and an enemy to Trump. Still, Trump is keeping slightly ahead of the pace of improvement that polls-plus expected of him. His chances of winning are 27 percent according to polls-plus, up slightly from 25 percent a week ago and from a low of 21 percent earlier this month.
None of this is to …