Welcome to Election Day.
For several months in this space I have analyzed the electoral map and sought to determine whether Donald Trump has a path to 270 electoral votes (EVs). Despite the tipsy-turvey nature of 2016, the fundamentals of the race have remained remarkably static — which is to say Clinton has many paths to the presidency and Trump has very few. Even his best stretch of the campaign (coinciding with her worst) did not change the fact that he has virtually zero margin for error on the electoral map.
I’ve said all along that four states will probably determine the outcome of the election — Florida (29 EVs), Pennsylvania (20 EVs), Ohio (18 EVs), and North Carolina (15 EVs) — and that Trump needed to win three of them to have a chance. Here’s what they look like on Election Day:
– Florida’s result will likely be the closest of any state and could tip either way. That said, Clinton has the upper hand due to a significant uptick in early voting among minorities.
– Pennsylvania, barring a miracle, is in the bag for Clinton. (Which is why Trump, needing a Plan B to reach 270, has made a late push into Michigan.)
– Ohio looks like a safe, if narrower-than-expected, victory for Trump. The race has tightened in recent days, but probably not enough to put Clinton over the top.
– North Carolina is a jump-ball and could be even closer than Florida. But recent demographic trends in the state favor Clinton, which, in a contest this tight, could make the difference.
My prediction is that Clinton wins Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, while Trump carries Ohio. If that happens, she wins the White House. Nothing — not even Trump shocking the political world by flipping the “blue wall” states of Michigan and Wisconsin — can compensate for losing three of those four critical battleground states that we’ve spent so much time focusing on.
I do predict that Trump, in addition to turning Ohio red, will also flip Iowa, which President Obama carried twice. That’s a total of 24 new electoral votes for the GOP that Mitt Romney didn’t have in 2012. But it won’t be enough. To hit 270, Trump also needed to protect North Carolina’s 15, steal Florida’s 29, and find another 11 EVs somewhere on the map — either by carrying a big state like Pennsylvania or Michigan, or by stringing together a number of smaller wins in Nevada, New Hampshire, and Maine’s second congressional district. I don’t see it happening for the Republican nominee.
A final note: I think Arizona, which is undergoing a rapid demographic transformation, will be extremely close. It could definitely turn blue. Romney won just 22 percent of Hispanics there; if Trump performs even worse, and if turnout jumps significantly among that voting bloc, Clinton could flip the state eight to twelve years ahead of schedule. But those are two big “ifs” — and until proven otherwise, it’s still a red state. I see a narrow Trump victory.
My final prediction: Clinton 322, Trump 216.
Here what that electoral map looks like:
(And please feel free to tar-and-feather me on Twitter if I’m wrong.)