Clinton far ahead in Electoral College race

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NEW YORK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton maintained her commanding lead in the race to win the Electoral College and claim the U.S. presidency, according to the latest States of the Nation project results released on Saturday.

In the last week, there has been little movement. Clinton leads Donald Trump in most of the states that Trump would need should he have a chance to win the minimum 270 votes needed to win. According to the project, she has a better than 95 percent chance of winning, if the election were held this week. The mostly likely outcome would be 326 votes for Clinton to 212 for Trump.

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Trump came off his best debate performance of the campaign Wednesday evening but the polling consensus still showed Clinton winning the third and final face-off on prime-time TV. Trump disputes those findings.

And some national polls had the race tightening a wee bit this week though others had Clinton maintaining her solid lead. But the project illustrates that the broader picture remains bleak for Trump with 17 days to go until the Nov. 8 election.

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The best Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton jokes from the Al Smith Dinner
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The best Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton jokes from the Al Smith Dinner

“I’m actually a modest person. In fact many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality – even better than my temperament."

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“The media is even more biased this year then ever before. You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic. .. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech. And people get on her case!"

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Trump called the event an "intimate" gathering for him, but Clinton's "largest crowd of the season," earning laughs from even Clinton herself. 
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"Donald wanted me drug tested before last night's debate. And look, I've got to tell you, I am so flattered that Donald thought I used some sort of performance enhancer. Now, actually I did ... it's called preparation."

 (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

"It's amazing I'm up here after Donald. I didn't think he'd be OK with a peaceful transition of power." 

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"After listening to your speech, I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it." 

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Trump did gain ground in South Carolina where his slim lead last week expanded to seven points, moving it into his column from a toss-up. Unfortunately for him, he lost ground in Arizona, which is now too close to call.

Additionally, he is facing a challenge for Utah's six Electoral College votes from former CIA operative and Utah native Evan McMullin. The independent candidate is siphoning votes away from Trump in a state that is Republican as any in the nation. In some polls, McMullin is even leading. (The States of the Nation is not polling on McMullin.)

Utah, like almost all of the states, is a winner-take-all contest.

Clinton has also maintained a lead in Florida and Pennsylvania, which have a combined 49 Electoral College votes. Ohio remains too close to call.

According to the project, lower voter turnout generally benefits Trump but his best hope for success is if Republican turnout surges and Democratic turnout is low. To examine these results and other scenarios, go to the States of the Nation project here.

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