Donald Trump is “pulling out of Virginia,” in a move that makes the embattled Republican nominee’s path to the presidency all the more dependent on a few key battleground states, according to a report from NBC News.
Without Virginia, a source inside the campaign told NBC, Trump is essentially focused on four states: North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Based of RealClearPolitics’ electoral map, that means Trump will almost certainly need to win all four in order to reach 270 electoral votes.
According to the latest polls, he trails Clinton in all four of those states, though often within the margin of error. After the Washington Post published a recording of Trump boasting about groping women without consent, every state’s poll swung towards Clinton, and four women came forward on Wednesday to accuse Trump of making unwanted sexual advances.
In Virginia, Trump had been consistently polling behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to RealClearPolitics, but the decision to stop campaigning completely still came as a surprise to Trump’s staff in the state, which has until recently been a solid Republican stronghold. The move was announced on a conference call late Wednesday night.
President Obama won the state in both of his elections, but before that Virginia had not voted for a Democrat since 1964 in a presidential election. Obama defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 by almost four percentage points, but RealClearPolitics had Clinton’s advantage at an average of 7.5 percent.
The Trump campaign in Virginia has already been through some turmoil in recent weeks, as chairman Corey Stewart was fired Monday after holding a protest outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee because he felt the committee was not supporting Trump effectively.
Stewart was not included in the decision to cease campaigning, he told NBC, and he said the move was “premature.”
"I think it's totally premature for the campaign to be pulling out of Virginia after so much work and all the hundreds ... of hours of volunteer time and thousands and thousands of volunteers," Stewart said. "The only thing the campaign had to do was spend money on an ad campaign and it would have been competitive ... I'm just disgusted."
However, an anonymous Trump staffer insisted the decision was not final, per NBC.
“There have been conversations about shifting resources," the staffer said. "But I haven't gotten any definitive answer on anything.”