Some Very Early Electoral Math

A previous entry here erroneously stated that because Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, 13 states have “flipped” in favor of Clinton according to the Cook Political Report.  That article failed to mention that Nebraska and Maine apportion their electoral votes according to congressional district with the overall state winner getting the additional two electoral votes.  Thus, Nebraska- the state- did not “flip” to the Democratic column, only their 2nd Congressional district.  Likewise, Maine’s Second district did not “flip” into the red column.  When Cook moves a race from “Solid” to “Likely,” it remains Likely.

Hence, thirteen states did NOT flip towards Clinton in the general election because Trump is the Republican nominee.  Obviously, the more polling information available in any state, the greater one can gauge how that state will come out in the end.  For example, there is a single outlying poll indicating a two-point victory for Clinton in Utah, one of the most consistently reddest states out there.  Another shows a very narrow Trump victory in electoral vote-rich Texas.  These worries are based on single polls, or in the case of Texas one way back in September, 2015.

In states where there is some semblance of ample polling data, momentum or the trend line is also important.  For example, is a candidate gaining or drifting against the leader over time?  In states where there are at least three polls, Clinton is maintaining or increasing her lead over time lending credence to the belief that she has these states sown up at this stage of the game.  Again, in every swing state, she is either showing a consistent lead on Trump, or slowing increasing her lead.  There may be a single poll out there showing otherwise, but in the overall sense these states are breaking towards Clinton.

This is where the author writes the obligatory caveat that it is still early and that things could change.  Indeed, they could as the general election campaign has not begun in earnest.

That is not to say that this race will not be a debacle for the Trump or the Republican Party.  For example, reliable polling data indicates that Hillary Clinton will sweep every single so-called swing state with the possible exception of Colorado.  Even in the case of Colorado, that is based on a single poll showing Trump ahead, but that poll was conducted in November, 2015.

And what does the polling data indicate on the electoral map at this point in time? A race that will not even be close really.  This writer is giving Trump Colorado based on that single poll because that is all I have to go on and that is giving Trump serious benefit of the doubt.  Likewise, I find it extremely hard to believe that Clinton will flip Utah, so I’m giving that state to Trump also.  What that leaves is Clinton with 350 electoral votes to 188 for Trump.  Although certainly not a record for electoral votes, it is still enough of an embarrassing loss for Clinton to cry “mandate.”  In fact, the race should be over relatively early in the night soon after polls begin to close.

But, there is a more ominous angle to these results.  There are ten Republican Senate seats that bear watching and one Democratic seat that could possibly be won (Nevada).  In eight of those ten Republican-held seats, Clinton is projected to win those states.  Ticket-splitting is becoming more and more rare in politics these days and that is not a good phenomena for the Republican Party this year.  If we assume that these trends will hold, we say good bye to the following Senate seats:

  1. Arizona- John McCain losing to Ann Kirkpatrick
  2. North Carolina- Richard Burr losing to Deborah Ross
  3. Pennsylvania- Pat Toomey losing to Kate McGinty
  4. Florida- open seat held by Marco Rubio lost to most likely Scott Murphy
  5. New Hampshire- Kelly Ayotte losing to Maggie Hassan
  6. Illinois- Mark Kirk losing to Tammy Duckworth
  7. Wisconsin- Ron Johnson losing to Russ Feingold, and
  8. Ohio- Rob Portman losing to Ted Strickland.

Even if the GOP picks up the seat in Nevada, they still lose the Senate.  I remain convinced that the down-ticket apocalypse will not wrest control of the House from the GOP as they have built up a sizable majority.  However, they will lose some power with a projected loss of 10-12 seats.

How these Senatorial candidates respond to the Trump candidacy will be important.  Do they distance themselves or endorse him and cross their fingers?  Do they hold out until they can more accurately gauge their state’s electorate?  This is the bind they find themselves in going into the election.