Much like in 2012, I will offer my predictions on the presidential and other key elections across the country in the lead up to the 2016 Election to take place on 8 November.
The basis of my prediction is looking at the following electoral maps: FiveThirtyEight, Talking Points Memo, New York Times, Real Clear Politics, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, Cook Political Report, and Princeton Election Consortium.
I also factor in history, other races, and what my gut tells me as someone who has followed politics closely for the last eight years.
Democrats have to feel pretty good heading into this election. Since 2000, Democrats have won the popular vote in 3 elections and expanded to Bill Clinton’s win in 1992, Democrats have won the popular vote in 5 of the last 6.
In the last four elections, Democrats have consistently won 19 states and DC for a total of 242 electoral votes, the states the Kerry won in 2004. Meanwhile Republicans have consistently won 22 states amassing 179 electoral votes which was McCain’s map in 2008.
That leaves 9 states and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district as the political battlegrounds that will decide the election.
Using 270towin.com’s map at this junction, Clinton has 52 winning combinations compared to Trump’s 37 winning combinations. Even though an electoral college tie is highly unlikely (FiveThirtyEight rates that happening at 0.2%), there are 14 tie possibilities.
3 OUT OF 4
The states in lighter shades of blue and red are the states that have gone for a party in three of the last four elections. In 2000, George W. Bush won New Hampshire and four years later W. Bush lost New Hampshire but traded it in for Iowa and New Mexico.
The Obama 2008 victory claimed 9 states from W. Bush’s 2004 victory. Those states included North Carolina and Indiana as well a unique electoral college feature: an electoral vote from Nebraska through their rules of electoral vote allocation which was the first time that ever happened. Four years later, Indiana, North Carolina, and Nebraska’s 2nd reverted back to the Republicans.
Trump will carry Indiana due to the fact that Governor Mike Pence is from that state. Pence was facing a difficult re-election bid in that state.
Factor in these states, Clinton has a 257-206 advantage over Trump. This is what the electoral map closely looked like prior to Obama clinching Ohio in 2012 and 206 electoral votes was what Romney received in 2012.
The states in purple have gone to the electoral college winner in the last four elections: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia thus rounding out the Last Four Map.
Based on the Last Four Map, all Clinton has to do is win Florida, Ohio, Virginia, or a combination of Nevada and Colorado. Trump would have to claim Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and win either Colorado or Nevada.
THE PATH TO 270
Both campaigns believe they can expand the map. Recent polling shows that Clinton is leading in Arizona, Georgia, and Missouri. Arizona has only gone to a Democrat once in the last 50 years when Bill Clinton won the state in his 1996 re-election. Georgia has only gone for a Democrat three times in the last 40 years: favorite son Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976 and 1980, and fellow southerner Bill Clinton won the state in 1992. Missouri was the bellwether for a century going for the winner in every election except in 1956. It has since ceded that status having gone for Republicans in the last two elections, but it could become a presidential battleground again due to competitive senate and gubernatorial elections.
Meanwhile the Trump campaign believes their path to victory goes through the Midwest starting with Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The campaign believes that there are enough of Trump’s supporters, specifically white working class voters and those without college degrees, to flip those states.
The problem why the Trump strategy is doomed because there are not enough of those voters for Trump to win over. In addition, the belief that there are all these hidden Reagan Democrats in those states is a myth. The only place where you are likely to find those people is going to be in a cemetery. Also as shown in the previous presidential election, Obama won Democrats 92-7 while Romney won Republicans 93-6. While the idea of cross-party voting is becoming less often today given the hyperpartisan environment that exists, it is more likely that Republicans are going to vote for Clinton or cast a ballot for a third party candidate than Democrats crossing over to vote for Donald Trump.
Then there is history both recent and distant. In recent history, Michigan is likely to remain in the Democratic column this cycle because of the fallout over the lead poisoning crisis in Flint. Republicans control the state legislature and governorship in Michigan so anyone telling you that Democrats control the state is full of it. Their attempts to run government as a business has been a catastrophe and should serve as a cautionary tale on why claiming business experience for being president is not a positive attribute.
Minnesota hasn’t gone for a Republican since 1972. Probably the trauma of voting for Nixon caused the state a blue tint since then. While the House Speaker, Republican Party Chairman, and one of the Republican primary candidates that ran for president are all from Wisconsin, the state hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since Reagan’s re-election.
Pennsylvania has been described as a Republican white whale. The last time a Republican carried this state was in George H.W. Bush’s 1988 election. Since then, no Republican has carried the state and has always traveled to the Keystone State in the final days of the campaign in a Herculean effort to flip the state despite having pulled out operations long ago. It didn’t work in 2008 nor did it work in 2012 and you can bet that either Trump or Pence will travel to Pennsylvania in the final days of the campaign to try to turn the state red. Current polling shows Clinton with a double digit lead in Pennsylvania in part due to Philadelphia and the associated suburbs strongly going for her.
Ohio is a reliable bellwether. The last time Ohio was wrong in a presidential election was in 1960 when it cast their votes for Richard Nixon over John F Kennedy. And since the creation of the party in 1854, no Republican has won the White House without Ohio.
Republicans crossing over to vote for Clinton or a third party due to Trump is likely the reason why the Clinton campaign believes they have a chance at flipping Arizona, Georgia, and Missouri. Demographic shifts are why Arizona and Georgia are likely to be competitive this cycle. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that specifically targets the Latino/Hispanic demographic is why Clinton is likely to win Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada. Georgia is widely believed to be an emerging battleground with good reason but also with cautious optimism as well.
Obama lost Georgia in 2008 by 5 points. It was third closest in terms of Obama loss; the closest was Missouri which he lost by 0.13%. Four years later Obama lost Georgia by less than 8 points and was one of five states Obama lost by single digits. As pointed out by “How Barack Obama Won”, Georgia is certainly a series of “what ifs” for the Obama team in 2008. Looking back at what I wrote in 2012 on Georgia, I still stand by those observations.
Georgia might be a battleground down the road. It might also be an example in missed opportunities. In 2008, McCain won the state by 5 points. The race was tightening up as Election Day drew near, but the Obama campaign made a decision to not challenge Georgia. Yeah, Georgia currently has 16 electoral votes which is more than North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, but would it have been worth it to compete in a state that has little chance of flipping versus competing in a state (like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia) that has a greater impact on the electoral math?
It would have been a calculated risk to challenge Georgia. You may win Georgia but in return you may lose a key battleground state because you are concentrating your resources (specifically people and money) in this effort to flip a fairly reliable red state into the blue column.
Would have an Obama appearance in Atlanta put Georgia as a last second battleground? Obama regularly appearing in Indiana, Colorado, and Virginia definitely helped. An appearance in Georgia might have caused a bounce in Democratic turnout, but I don’t think it would have flipped the state. In part it had to do with maximizing turnout of black voters. In 2008, black voters nationally supported Obama 95-4. In Georgia it was 98-2. It is looking like Obama will carry the black vote again. A National Journal poll conducted from 27-30 September among black voters showed Obama winning 98-0. Yes, Mitt Romney got ZERO support in that poll.
Per Talking Points Memo’s poll tracker, Clinton is enjoying an almost SEVENTY-point advantage with black voters. A McClatchy/Marist poll conducted 31 July-2 August, Clinton is up 93-2 among black voters. Using Talking Points Memo’s poll tracker, Clinton led in three straight polls but Trump has regained the lead in two recent polls to push him to plus-3 in the poll averages.
Now the cautious optimism portion about Georgia flipping. While there were efforts to register voters in Georgia in the lead up to the 2014 elections, the losing streak of Georgia Democrats to win statewide continued as it is in many areas of the south. Is it possible that Clinton could break the cycle and give Democrats in highly urbanized southern states such as Georgia and Texas hope that they could win? I would say yes, but it is going to take a lot of ground work to make that happen.
PREDICTION TIME (INSIDE 90 DAYS OUT)
My initial 2012 prediction was the final outcome of the election. Like a doofus I wrongly predicted on the day of the election that Florida would go for Romney when I should have stuck with my guns.
Using the starting map, Clinton will have 242 electoral votes to Trump’s 179. Even though Trump is from New York as is Clinton, he is not winning the state as his campaign claims they will. Also Trump is not winning Pennsylvania. In part this is due to the Clinton campaign having an almost 10:1 advantage nationally in staffers on the ground than the Trump campaign.
It is also another reason why Trump is not winning Colorado. I may be biased because it is the state where I currently reside, but Democrats know how to win in this state as proven in 2008, the US Senate race in 2010, 2012, and the 2014 gubernatorial as well as in downballots to defeat personhood and keep at least one portion of the state legislature blue. The Clinton campaign is confident in their efforts of carrying Colorado that they have pulled ads for the time being. I will expect to see them again after Labor Day.
I have yet to see a Trump ad on television, and the Trump effect will play a role in key downballot races in Colorado. Republican Senate candidate Daryl Glenn said after winning his primary in June that he would stand on stage with Trump if he came to Colorado. Trump has made two appearances in this state since Glenn’s victory – the first at the Western Conservative Summit days after the Colorado Primary and the second was a two-city tour after the nomination – and Glenn was nowhere to be found. The Republican Party is not putting resources into his efforts to unseat incumbent Senator Michael Bennett and it will likely be a Democratic hold.
US House candidates in Colorado are doing what they can to connect Trump to their Republican opponents specifically in Colorado’s 6th and 3rd congressional districts in the difficult task to unseat incumbents. The 6th is located primarily in Aurora and is one of the few competitive House races in the country while the 3rd is the Western Slope with portions of Pueblo and southern Colorado. The 3rd leans more Republican but could be flipped given Trump’s toxicity.
New Mexico and Nevada have similar demographics as Colorado specifically a large Latino/Hispanic demographic. In an appearance in New Mexico, Trump insulted Governor Susan Martinez, a fellow Republican but also the only Latina governor in the United States at this time.
Indiana will go for Trump in part due to Governor Pence is from that state and is on the ticket. Though I could see a scenario where Clinton wins that state, it is a longshot at best.
Maybe Nebraska’s 2nd repeats what it did in 2008. FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only forecast says Clinton has a 50-50 shot of winning that district. It was why she was in Omaha stumping with (actual) billionaire Warren Buffett.
And, yes Maine does that too. Trump was in Maine earlier this month but he wasn’t stumping in Maine’s 2nd. He was in Portland which is not in that district. Clinton will claim all of Maine’s electoral votes.
Adding Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), and Nevada (6) to the Clinton column and Indiana (11) to the Trump column makes it Clinton 262-191.
Recent polling from Arizona (11) and Georgia (16) could spell trouble for Trump as he does not have the resources to keep those states if the trends from polling results continue to be favorable to Clinton and her campaign allocates resources to flip those states. For now, let’s subtract them from Trump’s column.
So… The Watts News Electoral Map is as follows
I have Clinton 262, Trump 163.
At this point Clinton needs 8 electoral votes to win the presidency and has seven paths to 270. For Trump to reach the magic number, Trump has two paths and both involve him needing to win Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, AND Virginia.
Of the eight states and one congressional district remaining in this map, Obama carried three states twice (FL, OH, VA). North Carolina and Nebraska’s 2nd were in the Obama column in 2008.
Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, is from Virginia. The state is a bellwether having gone for the electoral winner in the last four elections and is a blueprint in turning a consistently red state for 40 years into a battleground in four years to a lean blue state this year. However, there was some luck involved…
That video is still up on YouTube today.
I see Clinton winning Virginia which puts her over 270. Even though Sanders won New Hampshire in the primary and the Iowa caucus was a close win for her, she will carry those states in the general. Demographics in Florida will help her win the state and the lack of organization by the Trump should help her in Ohio. This pushes her total to 332 which was Obama’s final 2012 tally.
I haven’t talked about North Carolina. Like Missouri, North Carolina has senate and gubernatorial elections in the state. The gubernatorial is receiving a lot of attention due to Governor Pat McCrory signing so-called religious freedom law that would deny services to LGBT persons due to religious objections similar to what Governor Pence did as Indiana governor. The law cost Charlotte the 2017 NBA All-Star Game as well as companies and the film industry from doing business with the state. North Carolina is also home to four universities: Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Wake Forrest. Trump was quoted at a primary victory speech saying that he loves the poorly educated.
Well, the somewhat educated (like yours truly) do not like Trump and that is showing in polling.
North Carolina made history in 2008 and I expect they will do it in 2016.
As of now I am bearish on Arizona and Georgia going for Clinton. The recent FiveThirtyEight now-cast also has South Carolina (seriously, South Carolina) trending towards Clinton by giving her a greater than 40% chance of winning the state. I was shocked to learn the last time the state voted for a Democratic presidential candidate was in 1976. I figured you had to go way back to the Solid South days.
Republicans know that they have tough sledding ahead if they are to win the White House. Perhaps this cycle they will finally get the message that the country has indeed changed and it is them that is out of step with America.
ELECTION 2016, POTUS