Both conventions have ended, and we can finally begin seriously tracking the likely state-by-state electoral results we expect to see come November 8th.
Below is our up-to-date electoral map, showing each state’s winner-take-all Electoral College votes. You’ll see we’ve used color coding to show which states are solidly or safely secure for each main candidate, and the states or Congressional Districts that are “in play”, meaning potentially winnable by either main candidate.
Map note — Base map courtesy 270towin.com. Use this site to try out your own electoral combinations and share them with your friends. Access your Truthteller’s map (minus our totals section) at Truthteller’s map. You can modify any state result you wish in our map to see how it changes. Enjoy!
The totals section
Unlike the map graphics in the big name election forecasting sites, we’ve provided summary-level estimates for each of the seven color-coded state categories. We’ve also shown the current consensus estimate among the top quality forecasting sites, and contrasted their estimates with our own.
Our strikingly different take on the so-called “swing” or “Battleground” states
This 2016 election cycle is highly unusual when compared to previous presidential year contests. Our proprietary Delphic Election Forecasting (DEF) methodology adds five normally “red” states to the battleground, based on continuing long-term demographic trends and the particulars of the 2016 race. We also break out the second Congressional District of Maine, whose single electoral vote is counted (by state law) separately from Maine’s other three votes. Why trouble over a single vote? Because, in a tight contest, this single, swing-y vote can become a tie-breaker, or a tie-maker. (Nebraska’s similarly counted two votes in the greater Omaha area are not broken out in our table, since they appear to be reliably Republican this year.) An Electoral College tie of 269 to 269 votes would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where Paul Ryan would swallow hard, then award the Presidency to Trump.
So much for our additions to the list of battleground states and districts. Next, we exclude the conventionally defined swing states of Wisconsin, Virginia, and Colorado, all of which appear to be safely in the Clinton column for 2016.
This leaves us with a total of twelve battleground states plus the Maine 2nd District. It means we’re focusing our analysis in states the national media folks don’t even mention. This is leading us to several novel hypotheses and observations. For example, our DEF method indicates that, thanks to the destructive Trump candidacy, the Republicans could be in serious trouble in five formerly “safe” red states. Of these, Georgia, with its 16 votes, is a potential deal-breaker for Trumpsters. Even more important, should Georgia fall to the Dems, there is a strong probability that Mississippi and, yes, South Carolina, would fall as well: the underlying voting dynamics of all three states are essentially similar.
Some interesting results so far
Notice that even if Trump won all the 34 votes of the only two true toss-up states (plus the Maine 2nd District) he’d be at 225 votes, still far short of the 270 needed to win.
That’s discouraging for those supporting the Orange Mega Screw-up candidate, but with the map and summary tables, it’s easy to see that his situation is actually much more desperate. Let’s suppose he was able to take Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes out of the Clinton column. He’d still be losing, with 245 votes to her total of 293!
Trump wins Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and the legendary Ohio, and still loses the election!
The answer is of course Florida, with its 29 votes. Those votes would get Trump to 274 votes, allowing him to barely eak out a win. Not a major revelation, your Truthteller readily concedes, since most of the TV and print election commentators will tell you that Trump simply must win Florida to have a winning chance. But none (that we’re aware of) will add that even if he can manage to win in Florida, he must also win all the other major “Battleground” states: Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. That is extremely unlikely, given what we’re seeing in those states.
OK, then, so what if he lost Florida (as current polling shows is most likely). Couldn’t he make up his 25 vote shortfall by picking off more of the “leaning Clinton” states?
The short answer is “Not likely.” He’d need New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada, plus Colorado, to give him 25 votes exactly, and reach the magic 270. His chances of taking all four of those states are probably less than five percent. To make the challenge even harder, Colorado is well on the way to becoming reliably blue. (Readers should note again that,along with Colorado, former swing states Virginia and Wisconsin are this year safely in Clinton’s column.)
Looks tough for the Republicans, as you can see. But, looking back at our newly redefined list of 2016 battleground states, if the Dems manage to flip Arizona, with its eleven votes, the Trump cause becomes hopeless. Crazy? Perhaps in past cycles, but this year Arizona is definitely in play, thanks to a weak McCain trying to distance himself from Trump, Trump’s odious anti-Hispanic slurs, strong Latino registrations, and Tim Kaine’s total likability, public service in Honduras, and fluent Spanish. All this even before the Dems reached out so effectively to white Republican women and suburbanites in their Convention. Think rich Phoenix; think Tucson.
We’re seeing the formation of a new, blue, Latino bloc anchored by New Mexico, and adding Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona, with the last three adding up to twenty-six votes for Clinton.
This is only one of the several interesting sets of electoral vote combinations we might see as the candidates fight their way to the November showdown. Another is a deep South potentially trending blue this year, and, very likely in years to come–this would require the redrawing of the strategic map of every professional national campaign consultant in the country.
More to come
The end of the conventions frenzy means that we’ll soon be able to see which campaign gained the most benefit over the other in the past two weeks. But polling results for post-election “bumps” are famously unreliable, so we’ll need to wait until roughly mid-August to have sufficient polling to begin making serious poll-based projections. This is especially true on the state-by-state level, where polling has so far been sparse.
Our DEF method does not rely on polling data, which is why we were able to project 347 electoral votes come November for Clinton in mid-June.
But we respect the polls-based work of, especially, Dr. Wang (of Princeton), Nate Silver of the 538.com site, the Upshot team at the New York Times, and the Reuters/IPSOS operation. From mid-August on, we’ll be daily comparing our evolving DEF decision array to all these polling experts. It’s not some sort of silly contest: we’ll be trying to sniff out the hidden situations in the key states where the polls may not be telling us the full story.
We use the polls, but we are mindful of the potentially hugely significant hidden trends that polls simply cannot “see”. The likely turnout of African-American voters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi is an example of a potentially winning tide for Clinton. The emergence of the new Hispanic bloc described above is another new twist in our traditional view of the American electorate. And no poll is going to inform us in advance of the potential “silent rebellion” in Republican and many conservative-leaning Democrat households, as white wives and Moms show their utter contempt for Trump and his spineless Republican puppets by going into ballot boxes throughout the battleground states, smile, and vote to cancel out the Trump vote of their blustering, bullying, or just plain thoughtless husbands.
We’ll modify our electoral vote projection map as warranted over the coming three months. In coming posts, We’ll also answer your questions about the campaigns, and our DEF analytical approach.