Author’s note: sure, I was wrong, but I was closer than most and every state I did call I called correctly except for Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, yet I also noted Clinton’s real vulnerabilities in those three states (categorizing them as “Upsets-Are-Very-Possible-States“) and gave Trump a fighting chance to win all three. Also, in the end, one of the great untold stories of this election was that of the effect of voter suppression overall…
Nevada Key: State-by-State Predictions for Election 2016: Barely or BIGLY, Trump Likely to Lose
It could be close, but it may not be: Democrat Hillary Clinton should still win at least 274 Electoral College votes even if she loses big states like Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, thereby defeating Republican Donald Trump on Election Day, and Nevada is the likely key; below, a state-by-state analysis of every competitive state.
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse November 7/8, 2016
AMMAN — I wrote after the third debate that the election was over and that Clinton would win unless there was some kind of major Surprise. Then, FBI Director Comey spoketh… And it’s closer than many thought possible.
As we pass through the homestretch and near Election Day, the discussion inevitably turns to maps and geography more so than any other time in the general election, and Americans get to reacquaint themselves with states other than their own, the existence of which they tend to forget when there is not a presidential election at hand. “Who are these mysterious denizens in distant lands who look at the same sky we do, can agree we both seem the same color, and then agree on nothing else whatsoever?” many ask.
Well, here is your guide to the map, states, and math of the Electoral College that will determine who will be the next president of the United States of America.
In order for Trump to defeat the favored Hillary Clinton, he would have to win almost all the battleground states. Now, this is why Clinton is favored in every major statistical model, and the gold-standard in polling analysis, Five Thirty Eight, has two models—one taking into account only polls and another taking into account polls and a few other factors like demographics and economics; the thing is, it’s not as daunting a task to win for Trump as one might think, hence Five Thirty Eight’s models wisely have Trump at about a 1-in-3 shot to become president.
And keep in mind folks: our magic number here is 270.
First, we have the states that are locks, barring a polling disaster or a political miracle (for all states, the number in parentheses is that state’s—and DC’s—number of Electoral College votes):
Hillary’s got these locked down: Vermont (3), Massachusetts (11), Rhode Island (4), Connecticut (7), New York (29), New Jersey (14), Delaware (3), Maryland (10), Washington, DC (3), Illinois (20), Washington (state) (12), Oregon (7), California (55), and Hawaii (4), for a total of 182 certain electoral votes for Clinton.
Donald’s got these states locked down: West Virginia (5), South Carolina (9), Kentucky (8), Tennessee (11), Alabama (9), Indiana (11), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Arkansas (6), Louisiana (8), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (5, but only 4 are certain because the state splits its votes), Kansas (6), Oklahoma (7), Montana (3), Wyoming (3), and Idaho (4), for a total of 116 certain electoral votes for Trump.
Locked electoral votes: 182 Clinton, 116 Trump
Then, we have states which look like they could be competitive in theory, but will not be unless something crazy happens: Virginia, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, New Mexico, Alaska, plus Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District; let’s go through each by which candidate is an overwhelming favorite and why.
Virginia (13): Before Obama won Virginia in 2008, the last time Virginia voted for a Democrat was in 1964, but since 2008 it’s been solidly blue, only sending Democratic U.S. Senators to DC since and reelecting Obama in 2012. Its main population growth has been in the DC suburbs, an area with a young, diverse increase in population mainly working for or contracting with the much-reviled status-quo “Establishment” government; they are the system and won’t vote for someone who advocates tearing it down. So while Clinton’s pretty steady lead is modest, don’t expect it to succumb to a Trump assault. Virginia will almost certainly stay in Clinton’s camp.
New Mexico (5): While Trump appears within striking distance in New Mexico, don’t let that fool you: only once since 1992, in 2004, has New Mexico voted for a Republican for president, and both of its senators and 2 out of 3 House seats are Democratic. Also, Clinton’s polling lead there has generally fluctuated between modest and good, but her lead has been steady. And, of course, Trump’s ridiculous comments about Mexican immigrants has riled up the normally relatively apathetic Latino bloc: Latinos—and Mexican-Americans especially—are coming out to vote for Clinton in record numbers, and New Mexico is fertile ground for this trend to keep it solidly in her column on Election Day. It should very much end up in with Clinton’s in the end.
Minnesota (10): Minnesota is the most liberal state not on a coast in the country: it hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since Nixon in 1972 and did so only two other times—each time for Eisenhower in the 1950s—since 1932. In addition, 6 of its 8 House (and both Senate) seats are in Democratic hands—the only state in between the coasts with such an imbalance in favor of Democrats other than New Mexico—and Minnesota polls have shown a consistent and generally sizable lead for Clinton there. Keep dreaming, Trump.
This gives us an addition 28 electoral votes that are almost certainly going to Clinton
28 near-lock + 182 lock = 210 in Clinton’s column total
Georgia (16): The polling has been mighty close in Georgia, but, for the most part, it’s been a consistent lead for Trump, if only a small one; but Democrats shouldn’t kid themselves: while Georgia is changing demographically and is becoming a more diverse state, the state-level political machine is very much dominated by Republicans, who have ensured that only about 28.5% of its House delegation is Democratic and both of its senators are Republicans even though nearly 45.5% of its voters voted for Obama in the 2012 election; the state system is clearly stacked against Democrats. There is a reason the Voting Rights Act (VRA) preclearance provisions were so focused on the South: white conservative southerners had used the state and local governments for generations there to disenfranchise southern blacks; with the conservative Roberts Supreme Court striking down the preclearance provision of the VRA, in 2013, overall in the South it is quite clear that Republican state authorities are engaging in systematic attempts to make it harder for people to vote in heavily Democratic and heavily African-American areas, with at least 655 polling locations closed since the Supreme Court decision in the six southern states where data is available. Georgia is not included in the available data-set, but Georgia can almost certainly be sure to be part of this trend and, especially with African-American turnout seemingly down compared to when Obama was running, it would take a miracle for Clinton to win Georgia.
Texas (38): Yes, a large number of polls show that Clinton is within striking distance in Texas (and, personally as a Democrat, I can’t wait for that state to go purple and then blue), but it’s not going to happen in 2016, barring some crazy miracle. And yes, while unlike African-Americans, Latinos will be turning out in historic numbers for Clinton, with Republicans firmly in control of the state (the state hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1976, only about 30.5% of its House delegation are Democrats and both its senators are Republicans both even though almost 41.4% voted for Obama in 2012) and trying to suppress voter turnout (at least 403 polling places have been closed in the state since the 2013 VRA decision), it would take something pretty crazy for her to top Trump in Texas.
Alaska (3): Though polls have shown a highly unusually close race in Alaska, and Five Thirty Eight’s models show Clinton with roughly the same chance of winning Alaska as Donald Trump has of winning either Wisconsin or Michigan, calm down, people, Trump is still up and it’s Alaska: this state only voted for a Democrat once, in 1964. Alaska is a diverse state, with Alaskan Natives/Native Americans a large portion of Alaska’s population—nearly 15%—and though they vote heavily Democratic, they have some of the lowest voter turnout rates of any group in the United States and hopes of Clinton taking the state would ride largely on the difficult task of turning them out. Don’t stay up late expecting Alaska to surprise anyone; it’s almost certainly going to be Trump territory.
Then there’s Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District (1), which famously voted for Obama in 2008, but not in 2012; whispers of Clinton having a shot have been heard, but in the scant polling we do have, nothing showed Clinton to be competitive, and there is no other evidence that this will be the case. Yes, there’s so little data that anything is possible, but take it to the bank that this is going stay Trump territory.
This adds another 58 electoral votes that are pretty definite for Trump
So 116 lock + 58 near-lock = 174 total for Trump total
So, certain/virtually certain Electoral Votes: 210 Clinton, 174 Trump
Now, below is where it gets more interesting…
Departing from the above states, we have a number of states where one candidate is moderately favored but where an upset is quite possible: Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Utah, and Arizona. Let’s break them down by which candidates are favored.
Maine (4 at stake in total, 3 at stake for the 1st Congressional District and overall winner): Overall, Maine is surprisingly close, and while a few polls have it very close, most have given Clinton a healthy lead; still, Maine is a very white state, and the whitest states have been her weakest during the primaries against Sanders and are also her weakest during this general election at the same time, but unlike most very white states, Maine’s population is relatively well-educated, a trait that hurts Trump’s chances. It is not very populous state, so any swing can make a big difference; Clinton is still an overwhelming favorite, and the state hasn’t voted GOP in a presidential race since 1988, but don’t count Trump out. Trump is far more likely to get 1 of Maine’s 4 electoral votes, from the state’s 2nd Congressional District (see further below), than he is to win the state outright.
Pennsylvania (20): While Pennsylvania has tightened in recent days, Clinton’s lead here has been averaging a very consistent moderate one, though one that has shrunken a bit in recent days. It’s not big enough to close the window on Trump but isn’t so small that it doesn’t make her a clear and substantial favorite. Yet possibly lower African-American turnout could mean Clinton doesn’t get quite the boost she is hoping for from Philadelphia.
And another point, and this is where we get into the whole early-voting situation and FBI Director Comey’s letters: Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states where there is no early voting and where only a specific set of reasons allow a person to absentee vote. Before Comey’s latest public statement, released yesterday, which exonerates (for a second time) Clinton of any prosecutable wrongdoing in her e-mails/server situation, I would have said that his previous incredible statement of October 28th—that new e-mails were found in the process of a possible sex-crime investigation on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, which he apparently shared with top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, which may be relevant to the Clinton investigation but which neither Comey nor the FBI has begun examining, meaning there was no evidence to report yet (a statement that altered the race, hurt Clinton, and helped Trump)—could have led to a dip in Clinton’s support in general and especially in states that do not allow early voting, since very few people there would have been allowed to vote before that damaging statement from Comey came out, and since people voting on Election Day would have had this e-mail thing as likely the last revelation of the 2016 campaign and the piece of information most fresh in their minds in the voting booth.
In other words, in a close race, that October 28th Comey revelation could have made it closer or even changed the outcome. With the new revelation exonerating Clinton from wrongdoing coming only 48 hours before Election Day, on one level, this probably reduces some of the damage from the earlier statement; but the fact is that that previous statement gave America a week of non-stop negative coverage of Clinton and this new one came so late it might not make much of a difference at all: people might even miss the information depending on how busy and engaged they were/are with just two days left (a further question that will be very difficult to answer is: how many people would have voted differently during early voting if they had known now that they know from Comey’s latest revelation and/or if they had never heard the previous Comey statement; that is a mighty difficult question to answer, yet it is still very troubling that we even need to be asking this question, much to the discredit of Comey and the FBI). Another thing to consider is that even though this is “good” news for Clinton, it is still news that keeps the spotlight on this e-mail/server issue, one of Clinton’s worst, and not the issues, not her positives, not Trump’s negatives. Especially in a close race that does not allow early voting, the whole FBI e-mail stuff is still what has colored the last stretch of the campaign, so even with the latest exoneration this stuff probably hurts, more than helps, Clinton.
Still, Pennsylvania looks good for Clinton, and the state hasn’t picked a Republican for president since 1988, but it doesn’t look that good for her, and Trump has a decent chance of winning, or failing that, quite a good chance of making Pennsylvania a very tight race and much closer than expected. Bet on Clinton, but don’t bet the house.
Michigan (16): Michigan is quite an interesting state; on paper, it’s generally shown a steady and moderate Clinton lead in the polls, but with a few exceptions. However, Michigan became one of the greatest polling disasters in polling history—and the greatest in primary history—during the Michigan Democratic Primary, when Bernie Sanders ever so narrowly upset Hillary Clinton; it was the surprise Brexit (so far) of the 2016 election season. There are plenty of reasons—lower black enthusiasm, higher white enthusiasm, anger at trade deals, etc., that Trump won big in the primary and Clinton lost to Sanders—to look at a Trump upset as a serious possibility in this state. Plus, the state-level government is totally controlled by Republicans. And oh, Michigan is another state without early voting and which is strict with absentee voting, raising the possibility of Clinton’s e-mails weighing disproportionately heavily on voters’ minds here. She is definitely favored, and Michigan hasn’t gone Republican for president since 1988, but the people at the Clinton campaign sure aren’t taking Michigan for granted; nor should they.
Wisconsin (10): With a generally steady and moderate lead for Clinton, Wisconsin isn’t quirky like Michigan, and it isn’t as close in polling as Pennsylvania, but that doesn’t mean it is out of Trump’s reach: the state government is totally controlled by Republicans, with controversial Gov. (and former 2016 presidential candidate) Scott Walker at the helm. Conversely, if Michigan is possibly weaker for Clinton because she narrowly lost to Sanders there, it must be mentioned that former 2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz trounced Trump in the Wisconsin Republican Primary; additionally, Wisconsin hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1984. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania are better bets for Trump, though he still has a decent, if smaller, shot at Wisconsin.
This adds 49 more electoral votes to Clinton’s column, probable but far from certain or even close to certain
49 likely + 210 lock/near lock = 259 looking good for Clinton overall
Iowa (6): For a while it seemed like Iowa would be pretty competitive, but as the campaign draws to a close, the polling trends have moved decidedly in Trump’s favor; Clinton still has a shot, but that shot has become smaller just when she would have hoped the opposite would be true. Expect Trump to prevail in Iowa.
Utah (6): Utah undoubtedly has to win the novelty prize of “most interesting race:” For a while, the state was host a tight three-way race between Trump, Clinton, and independent conservative and one of the last true standard-bearers of the conservative #NeverTrump movement, Mormon Utahn Evan McMullin. Unlike the vast majority of conservative Christians—who have proven themselves little more than rank hypocrites in supporting Trump after harping so long on “family values” as an issue, Mormons have admirable actually demonstrated a fidelity to their principles and have never warmed up to Trump; in fact, they really don’t like him. But polls in the last few weeks have shown Trump with a moderate and steady lead, and Utah seems to be his to lose. Still, with many Mormons being so principled and passionate in their feelings against Trump, it’s quite possible that anti-Trump Mormons may turn out in higher numbers than expected and vote for their fellow Mormon. McMullin has been surprisingly impressive, and still has the ability to shock and be the surprise of the election, but it is still an uphill battle for him, and even more so for Clinton in a conservative state, no matter how close they are; expect Trump to win but allow room for a surprise.
IF McMullin does pull off an upset—hardly inconceivable—his victory could throw a monkey wrench into the whole Electoral College math in some interesting scenarios where neither Trump nor Clinton hit 270 Electoral College votes, sending the election… to Congress? See more at the end of my article (coming soon)…
Arizona (11): Arizona has only gone once for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1952: Bill Clinton, in 1996. This time around, there has been a mostly steady and moderate lead for Trump, though a few more relatively recent polls have it very close and a few even have Clinton up a sliver. It should still go Trump, except… as mentioned, there is a dramatic increase in Hispanic voter turnout this election, and this could put Arizona in play. But there is also an increase in white turnout, as well, which may even outpace the big bump in Latino participation. And Republicans control the entire state government, having at least 212 polling places been closed in the state since the 2013 Supreme Court VRA decision. Even with a Latino surge, with the polls the way they are, a competing white surge, the state dominated by the GOP, and a longer-term national Republican strategy of voter suppression already in place, Arizona is likely to remain with Trump.
This gives another 23 likely, but hardly certain, electoral votes to Trump
23 likely + 174 lock/near lock votes = 197 for Trump
So far, that’s 259 for Clinton and 179 for Trump
Finally, true battleground states where things are most in doubt are Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, as well as Maine’s 2nd Congressional District; we’ll divide these into leans and true tossups.
Colorado (9): Clinton had a good-sized lead in Colorado for most of October, but after the Comey announcement of October 28th, polling showed the race here tightening considerably. Still, even though the race is closer, she is shown to have a clear if slight lead, and the fact of the matter is that the demographics of Colorado are very much against Donald Trump, not just because the state is diverse, but because much of the white population is young and Millennial-heavy, profusely college-educated, and liberal. It may be a very close race, but this ground is not favorable to Trump, not enough to give him a victory without a lot of luck and a big surprise. Colorado is a state that has changed a lot and now seems firmly on a path that will keep it a blue state in terms of presidential politics for the foreseeable future.
Nevada (6) TIPPING POINT: The polling in Nevada—perhaps the most difficult state of all to poll for a mix of reasons—has been balanced out to being pretty much tied (not so much with actual ties but with a number of polls canceling each other out), and it would be easy to include it in the tossup category… Except that a lot of early voting data suggests that the race is basically over, that Latino and Democratic turnout has so exceeded expectations in favor of Clinton and without an increase in whites large enough to offset this, that the race can already be called for Clinton in the eyes of the most reputable authority on Nevada politics, Jon Ralston, especially considering that the vast majority (70%) of Nevada voters voted early in 2012.
So Clinton might have already won Nevada before Election Day, with the Nevada State Democratic Party and Harry Reid’s political machine delivering her a victory through an exceptional early-voting-drive effort; it would be fitting particularly for Reid, since it was arguably his machine that delivered Nevada to Clinton in the contest with Sanders, and, as I have pointed out, that was the point where Clinton effectively defeated Sanders for the nomination, even if many others did not realize this at the time. Yes, this would be quite a curtain call for Reid, set to retire after suffering a terrible head injury while exercising back on New Years’ Day in 2015.
Given what we know from early voting, it’s very hard to see Trump winning Nevada.
This means that looking at how uncertain other parts of the race are, considering how in-doubt Nevada was until early voting data came in and how Colorado was thought to be much less competitive than Nevada, if we look at the map and do the math, if we consider Colorado a state more secure for Clinton than Nevada, then we can basically say that Nevada is the tipping point, because it is with Nevada secure—the least secure of all the contests for her in which she is favored—that she has enough Electoral College votes to win the election regardless of who wins New Hampshire, North Carolina, or Florida, the outcomes of which are far more in doubt; Nevada in this case is the kingmaker, then, or, rather, we should say queenmaker.
So 15 electoral votes (with Nevada being the final 6) + the 259 we already gave to Clinton = 274.
But, let us finish our analysis:
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District (1): Polls previously had this very rural, extremely white part of Maine solidly in Trump’s camp, but over the last month is has tightened and now the polls indicate it will be a toss-up. But aside from very being white, it is also not as well-educated as the rest of Maine, making it fertile ground for Trump; thus, even with the numbers indicating a tie, in the end, the demographics suggest that Trump is more likely to prevail than Clinton.
Ohio (18): Ohio always seems to be a crucial state in elections: since 1804—its first election—the state has only failed to vote for the winning presidential candidate 9 times, and only twice in the 20th century, in 1944 (weirdly enough) and 1960. But there’s a pretty good chance that Ohio will pick the loser in 2016, for the first time in 56 years. Clinton has a decent shot, but not a great one: for most of the last month, Trump has had a steady and moderate lead, but very recently a number of very close polls came out; if not for these polls, I would have had Ohio in the previous category. On one level, Ohio is mad about Bill Clinton’s NAFTA trade deal, plus African-Americans, as mentioned, have been coming out to vote in lower numbers than in 2008 and 2012, Ohio included; on another level, Clinton still managed to beat Sanders soundly here in the primary, while Trump was embarrassed by then-rival and sitting governor of the state John Kasich, who refused to vote for Trump and wrote in John McCain’s name in early voting. Still, the Republicans control the entire state government and Trump is definitely favored here: Clinton has about as good a chance of winning Ohio as Trump does of winning the whole election: according to Five Thirty Eight models, about one-in-three. It could be really close, but Trump should win here.
This means we have 19 electoral votes that lean trump
19 leans + 197 likelies, locks/near locks = 216 electoral votes for Trump
That’s 274 electoral votes for Clinton, 216 for Trump even before the most in-doubt races are factored into the mix, but let’s go into them anyway, since the above numbers are likely, but hardly guaranteed.
New Hampshire (4): Clinton had a relatively steady lead here, but polls tightened over the last week or so, and even though she still seems to have an overall edge in polling, there are many contradictory polls; given New Hampshire’s famous propensity for bucking trends and defying prediction, being independent-minded, and having a strong libertarian streak, it’s just too hard to predict this one. Clinton got crushed here by Bernie Sanders, and Trump dominated his opponents here on the other side of that primary, but the state also voted for Obama twice and voted for Kerry in 2004. The state is also overwhelmingly white, but also very educated. On top of it all, New Hampshire is one of those few states that does not have early voting and has strict absentee voting, begging the question of how the whole FBI/Comey stuff will play out. New Hampshire, you’re tough, and I honestly don’t have a prediction to make.
North Carolina (15): Going into the final few weeks, a number of conflicting polls emerged, with a majority showing Clinton with a slight-to-moderate lead, but a strong minority giving Trump a lead, and most of those a slight one; the final poll showed a tie. If this wasn’t confusing enough, North Carolina is a relatively educated state, with a strong number of college-degree holding whites and a large African-American population; conversely, white turnout is up in North Carolina and African-American turnout is down in the state after the GOP closed a number of polling sites, and the state government is totally controlled by Republicans, who have been exposed there as systematically trying to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” with voter suppression in a federal appeals court rulingfrom late July that struck down some of the North Carolina Republicans’ attempts to restrict voting, a ruling which a 4-4 deadlocked Supreme Court was unable to overturn at the end of August (had Scalia survived, he certainly would have made that a 5-4 decision overturning the federal appeals court ruling). The state voted for Obama in 2008 (the first time a Democrat won the presidential race there since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976), but then went for Romney in 2012, and with plenty of reasons for both campaigns to be optimistic and both campaigns to worry, it is unclear how the state will go once all the votes are counted in 2016.
Florida (29): Oh, Florida, it’s always crazy in Florida on Election Day. Polls in Florida have been a bit all over the place, about half showing Clinton with a small lead and half showing Trump with a small lead (plus one) tie. And there are reasons for both sides to be optimistic: Clinton is happy that Florida is a diverse state and that in its vibrant Latino community turnout is dramatically up in early voting, but the white vote is also way up, the Democrats’ lead in early voting is less than it was in 2008, and Republicans control the entire state government, a position from which they may be engaging in voter suppression, as Republicans have been apt to do this election cycle: after Hurricane Matthew hit, Republican Governor and enthusiastic Trump supporter Rick Scott did not even want to extend voter registration, but he was sued by the Florida Democratic Party and a federal judge forced him to extend the deadline. Thus, Florida, as usual, is also too close to call, give the polling and what I laid out.
I really think these last three states are just too close to call, so that’s 48 electoral votes that are anybody’s guess. But this still gives us a range:
Likely closest result: 274 Clinton, 264 Trump
Likely biggest gap: 322 Clinton, 216 Trump
The Crazy Scenarios if Nobody Gets to 270
Then, there are the crazy scenarios with a realistic chance of actually happening, where neither Clinton nor Trump hit 270.
For starters, let’s say that the states go as I have predicted and say that New Hampshire goes for Clinton with North Carolina and Florida going to Trump, with the exceptions that Trump pulls off upsets in Nevada and Colorado: ladies and gentleman, we would be tied 269-269, and the election would go to the incoming Congress (more on that in a bit, and wow, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District would look mighty important in such scenario).
But then we have other crazy scenario: if Evan McMullin wins Utah (hardly an extremely remote possibility given what I laid out) there are a number of very close scenarios where candidates could be just a few electoral votes shy of getting 270, sometimes just a single vote (Maine’s 2nd Congressional District could be a kingmaker here if it went Clinton) . And, again, we go to Congress.
There are other scenarios where neither Clinton nor Trump reaches 270, but these are easily the most likely, the other being dramatically more remote but hardly impossible (scenarios involving less competitive states above the battleground tier, as outlined above).
I’ll avoid going into those since they are far more remote, but feel free to play with your own maps.
But, under the Constitution, when the election goes to Congress, the president is chosen by the state congressional delegations from the incoming House of Representatives class (extremely likely to be majority-Republican), with each delegation getting one vote: all of Texas’ congressmen are equal to Montana’s one congressman. They would be allowed to choose from the top three electoral vote receivers, and if McMullin’s Utah delegation could pull in other Republican states’ representatives who are hostile to Trump into a bloc, they could prevent enough delegations from picking Trump, who would need 26 out of the 50 delegations to win. Meanwhile, the Senate would select the VP from the top-two electoral-vote receivers for the vice presidency, with senators voting as individuals; if the House could not pick a winner with at least 26 delegations by the inauguration, the VP chosen from the Senate would become president; if Senate was deadlocked, the president would be the incoming Speaker of the House (likely Paul Ryan but not certainly so).
On top of all of this? A Bernie Sanders support who is 1 out of 12 electors in the Electoral College for Washington State, which a lock for Clinton, has explicitly said he will not vote for Clinton in the Electoral College regardless of how his state votes; if he stays true to his statement, then Clinton will lose 1 electoral vote. If some of the aforementioned wackier scenarios play out, this one obnoxious man may decide the fate of the nation, and perhaps Western democracy and the world…
About That Popular Vote…
With lots of close races, it’s going to come down to turnout. Can Obama’s personally hitting the campaign trail help to make up some of the gap between black turnout in 2012 and 2008 compared to reports of lower turnout thus far in 2016? Can Trump turnout whites in record-enough numbers to upset Clinton? Will Latinos, like the Ents in The Lord of the Rings, wake up to their potential power and be kingmakers in key states like Florida, Arizona, and Nevada?
As for the numbers of popular vote, the best pollster in politics, Ann Selzer, just released a national poll which had Clinton at 44%, Trump at 41%, 4% for Gary Johnson, and 2% for Jill Stein; 1% did not know, 3% voted/intended to vote but not for president (think of this as the disgusted vote), and a whopping 4% did not want to tell their choice; as I wrote in my early October prediction of how voters might shift before Election Day (I seemed to have underestimated the collapse of Johnson and Stein, but my best guess from then was about Clinton 45%, Trump 43%, Johnson 6% and 2-3% for Stein, with about 4.5% undecided that I wouldn’t dare guess), I noted how I thought the vast majority of those who said they did not want to share their intentions were probably Trump voters; if I am right here, the popular vote margin could be very close; Clinton could even lose the popular vote while winning the electoral college, something that, given what I just mentioned, seems a more likely scenario that any would have thought previously (I didn’t say likely, just more possible). If I am wrong about those people who didn’t want to share their choice with pollsters, Clinton should win the popular vote by a small but clear margin, but perhaps the Latino surge will outperform these surveys and give Clinton more than a small margin in the popular vote; probably the main reason she will win by a larger margin if so, and, possibly the main reason she will win in general.
It’s also quite reasonably possible that the polls are off by “a normal polling error” across the board, kind of like with Brexit; if this is the case, we could see a decent-sized Trump win, but that could mean a Clinton blowout.
We’ll know very soon. Nothing to worry about here, only the fate of American and Western democracy…
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