We’ve all been thinking (or hoping?) that Trump doesn’t stand a chance of actually winning the presidency. But you should hold onto your hats, folks, because it ain’t over yet. It turns out that Trump does have a hope in hell of a victory on Tuesday, and here’s why.
For the first time in months, Donald Trump has a clear shot at beating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Although he is not ahead in national polls, renewed interest in Hillary Clinton’s emails has boosted Trump’s numbers in key battleground states. Trump now holds a slight lead in places like Ohio and Florida and is knocking at the door in Nevada and North Carolina. The FBI has seemingly illuminated a path for Trump, but which states must he win to take the White House?
For the entire presidential race, Hillary Clinton has maintained a lead over Donald Trump in nearly all aggregate national polls. But the race tightened considerably last week, when FBI director James Comey reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of private email while she was Secretary of State. The new batch of emails comes from the laptop of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide. Weiner’s laptop was seized by the FBI during an investigation into his 2014 sexting scandal. According to Comey some of the emails on the laptop “appear pertinent to the investigation”. The vague FBI announcement has left voters to speculate its significance with less than a week until Election Day. As such, Clinton’s polling numbers have slouched, allowing for Trump to emerge as the clear favourite in Iowa, Ohio, and Arizona. But for Trump, it’s not simply a matter of winning more states: he’ll need to win the Electoral College – the body that actually elects the President.
The Electoral College is a remarkably simple mechanism, considering its importance in electing the President of the United States. Essentially, each state is worth a certain number of votes in the Electoral College, dependent on the number of voters in the state. It’s a winner takes all system: if Hillary Clinton wins California, for example, (almost a certainty), she gets all 55 of the possible 55 electors in that state. Donald Trump on the other hand will likely win Texas, another major chunk of electors with 38. In total, there are 538 electors up for grabs and the first candidate to reach a majority – 270 – wins. Getting the right combination of swing states is imperative for this.
With polls shifting last week, it is now clear Trump has a real chance to win the electoral votes of some key states. Ten battleground states have emerged in this election: Ohio (18), Florida (29), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4), Virginia (13), and Arizona (11). In total this amounts to 131 electoral votes – well beyond enough to swing the election in the favour of Trump or Clinton. But looking deeper, there appear to be five that Trump really has a chance at winning. At the time of writing, RealClearPolitics has Trump beating Clinton by 3.3% in Ohio, 0.6% in Florida, 1.6% in Nevada, 1.4% in Iowa, and 3.0% in Arizona. For reference, RealClearPolitics conducted similar polls in 2012 and got nearly all of them correct – except for Florida, which was also very close. And Florida is the key. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, it wouldn’t matter if Trump earned the other four states or stole a couple others from Clinton. He just wouldn’t have enough to catch her as the polls stand now. In that scenario he would need to win Pennsylvania, a state that has voted Democrat in the past 6 elections and has Clinton ahead 4.9%. The bottom-line is Trump needs to win Florida and a number of the swing states listed above if he wants to take the White House.
Despite the weeks of scandal, lost debates, and bad polling numbers, Trump seems to have gotten lucky at the right time. The uncertainty around the FBI’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails has hurt her in nationwide polls and in key battleground states. If Trump can manage to take Florida, and string together victories in North Carolina, Ohio, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire, all places where he has strong bases of support, we could be planning a Trump inauguration. I’m not pouring any Trump Vodka yet though.
The Election is Tuesday, 8th November.
Phineas Bar will be screening the election live starting at 10pm on Tuesday night.
Featured image: flickr