The Slatest

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: Sound the Alarm!

Donald Trump arrives at U.S. Cellular Center on Sept. 12 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Earlier this afternoon, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie and Jim Newell did their best to offer an even-handed answer to the question that we ask ourselves every day up here in the watchtower: Is it time to freak out now? Jamelle’s take: “I don’t see the utility in panicking, although I understand that things are too close for comfort.” Jim’s: “People who are terrified of a Trump presidency should feel fully terrified at all times.” I agree with both of my colleagues: Panicking may not be the most productive reaction, but it’s certainly an understandable one. This is Donald J. Trump we’re talking about.

Consider the handful of swing-state surveys that came out Wednesday: Bloomberg found Trump with a five-point lead on Clinton in Ohio in both a head-to-head matchup and in a four-way race that includes Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. CNN/ORC, meanwhile, found Trump with a four-point lead on Clinton in the Buckeye State in a two-way race, and a five-point lead in a four-way one. The CNN pollsters also found Trump with a four-point lead on Clinton in Florida in a two-way matchup, and a three-point lead in a four-way one. With those surveys factored in, Trump now leads in both battleground states according to RealClearPolitics rolling averages. Hillary can still win the White House even if she loses both, but clearly her path is narrower without them.

On the ground I urge people not to get distracted by a scary survey or two, and if I were standing next to you down there today, I might see only a horseman-and-a-half. The race is tightening, but Clinton remains ahead in the national polling averages (by 2.3 points according to RealClearPolitics), and is still the favorite to win according to the numbers-loving prognosticators. But to be a watchman means leaving your objectivity on the ground; up here the air is thin, and we’re prone to hyperventilating. And so today I’m holding my brown paper bag with one hand and sounding the alarm with the other. There are far too many horsemen on the horizon—and it looks like they’re heading this way!

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons