UPDATE, The Morning After:
After laying out all the reasons why Trump could win (for months and months), I blatantly ignored that evidence and confidently predicted (below) a decisive Clinton victory. The power of conventional wisdom and the ‘echo chamber’ was never greater than the past week in US election politics, only to be overcome by the voters who ultimately decide. For a matter of minutes, each voter is in charge – in the privacy of the voting booth. Each voter is equal – a single mother in Michigan or retiree in Pennsylvania has the same weight as a Hollywood celebrity or Wall Street trader. And the voters have proved, again, that they are very much in charge.
Can Trump win? That’s the question on everyone’s mind.
Yes he can – he has a pathway. But I’m betting that Hillary Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States and it won’t be that close. In fact, I have put my money where my mouth is by betting $5 through BC Lottery Corporation’s online election pool (expires at 4pm Tuesday).
First, a few starting points to consider when watching the results:
- It takes 270 electoral votes to win. Just because a candidate wins the popular vote doesn’t mean they win the electoral college. Clinton gaining a higher popular vote in Texas or running up the margin in California is meaningless in terms of electoral votes. She needs to win states.
- There has been a lot of early voting in places like Florida, where early turnout was much higher than 2012 and mostly before the FBI bombshell. That mitigates late-campaign swings to some extent.
- The electoral map is always in a state of flux. In 1960, the GOP won California and Washington and the Democrats won Texas and most of the South. This election, we will see some states switch allegiances (in both directions) compared to recent elections.
- No candidate in recent memory has been as much of a disruptor as Donald Trump. He is using social media as blunt-force trauma compared to Hillary Clinton’s better-resourced, data-driven approach. Trump has ‘macro-targeted’ and his winning scenario is moving non-university degree white voters en masse.
- How many times have we been surprised lately? Justin Trudeau’s majority, NDP in Alberta, Jeremy Corbyn as UK Labour leader (twice), David Cameron’s majority then Brexit, the rise of Bernie, and the rise of Trump. The people will make up their own mind, thank you very much. Many voters simply don’t cooperate with polls. Will ‘cranky won’t says’ make the difference? That would be good for Trump.
The best available information
Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina says the Democrats have run 63,000 simulations every night since Obama’s first run for president. The data available to the Democrats and the GOP is the product of hundreds of millions, if not, billions of dollars of investment. The public polls may be indicative but, obviously, not wholly reliable. This is why we mere mortals often get surprised.
Let’s take a look at the work of those trying to figure this out.
> Nate Silver 538 “Odds in HRC’s favour”
Nate Silver’s 538 website has closely tracked public polls. He puts the odds at 71.9% Clinton, who he predicts will win about 302 electoral votes. The New York Times ‘Upshot’ has Clinton’s odds at 84%.
In Silver’s winding road to victory graphic, Clinton crosses 270 in New Hampshire and pads the margin with Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, and the Maine 2nd district.
> Real Clear Politics “Uncomfortably Close”
Real Clear Politics has Clinton at 203, Trump at 164, and Toss-Ups at 171. When pushed into a “No Toss Ups” map, RCP has the margin at an incredibly close 272-266.
Huh? Isn’t Clinton supposed to be further ahead? RCP has Trump edging Clinton in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arizona. New Hampshire is in RCP’s Clinton column but has been flipping and flopping all week like a halibut sun bathing on a Boston Whaler.
> USC/LA Times Poll “The Outlier”
This nightly tracking poll (via online panel) has been a consistent outlier for months. If Trump wins, they are geniuses – they have been about 4-5 points to Trump’s favour consistently compared to most pollsters. This poll does provide a view of campaign momentum. The RNC convention (7/25), subsequent self-induced Trump collapse (8/12), Clinton health scare (9/17), Billy Bush tape (10/17), and post FBI surge (today).
Building on my blog post last week (“Can Hillary lose? Not easily“), here are my revised prognostications going into Tuesday night.
The pathway for Trump to win 270 electoral college votes is not easy. It would look something like this:
- Win all of Romney’s states (206). Right now, he is forecasted to do that but has been vulnerable in North Carolina (15) and Arizona (11). He seems to be pulling away in Arizona but NC is a toss up. Utah is another wildcard where independent Evan McMullin has been in shouting distance of Trump.
- Consolidate consistent leads in Obama states (24). Trump has been leading for a while in two states where Obama triumphed in 2012 – Ohio (18) and Iowa (6). Now he’s up to 230 total votes with steps #1 and #2.
- Win Florida (29). It would be very, very hard for Trump to win the White House without this state. The polls are close. Running total: 259.
- Find (11) votes from the following: New Hampshire (4), Maine 2nd district (1), and Nevada (6). That’s 270 right there in Steps 1-4. This is very similar to the RCP map above that has Trump at 266 – it’s just missing New Hampshire.
- Hail Mary scenario – If Trump’s carpet bombing of previously considered safe Democrat states succeeds, it changes the calculation: Pennsylvania (20) and Colorado (9) could add to or replace Florida’s 29 votes; Michigan (16) or Wisconsin (11) would replace or add to the smaller states in #4 above. This would be white voters (college education or less) turning out “big time”. This scenario is a tall order, indeed.
I have unreliable data like the rest of you. So this comes down to a gut feeling. Trump will not win all of the Romney states. I believe he will lose North Carolina due to my perception of Clinton’s organizational advantage. I’m shaky on that prediction, but I’m going with it.
Further, I believe Clinton will win Florida due to early voting and organization. Nevada should also be in Clinton’s column.
Therefore, Trump has 191 Romney votes, plus gains in Ohio (18) and Iowa (6), and I will throw in New Hampshire (4) for a total of 219 votes to Clinton’s 319. My sense is that the FBI-induced fever that plagued Clinton over the past week broke over the weekend. Her campaign’s inherent strengths and Trump’s weakness with non-white voters will be a deciding factor in close races. It will take an uprising in states where there is a higher proportion of white voters to elect Trump, IMHO. I’m betting the surprise on election night will be the size of Hillary Clinton’s margin of electoral votes, not a Trump win.
On Election night, channel flip over to Global TV’s BC1 news channel. I will be speaking to results with Global’s Keith Baldrey throughout the evening.
The Rosedeer Prediction Map: