The most recent polling for the November election has Hillary Clinton holding on to every state Barack Obama won in 2012 except Colorado, but has her picking up North Carolina and Utah which both went for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Barack Obama tallied 332 electoral votes in his 2012 re-election. 270 are needed to win. So for any Republican to take the White House in 2016, they would need to peel away 63 electoral votes from Obama’s 2012 total.
Even if North Carolina goes back to RED, if Hillary holds Utah (6 electoral votes), the Republican nominee could turn Florida (29), Ohio (18), AND Pennsylvania (20) from BLUE to RED and would STILL lose the election 271-267, the same margin of victory for George W. Bush in 2000.
Even if the Republican nominee (which we can safely assume will be Donald Trump) holds every state Romney won in 2012, meaning he takes back North Carolina AND Utah, where is he making up 63 electoral votes? Turning Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), AND Virginia (13) would still leave him 1 short.
This is the reality for Republicans. While the popular vote polls shows a 52-46 for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (so not much change from the 51-47 of 2012), the electoral map does not show much wiggle room for Trump.
Assuming (and it is an unlikely assumption) that Utah and North Carolina shift back to RED, there are only 80 remaining electoral votes in what could be considered ‘swing states’ with Trump needing 63 of the 80 to win.
Can he run the table in the swing states? Maybe, but very likely not.
If he can not, he will need some long-shots to come in, like Michigan or Wisconsin. Sure, Trump talks as if these states are in-play and Clinton struggled against Bernie Sanders, but the reality is far less kind.
Barack Obama carried Michigan twice, 57-41 2008 and 54-44 in 2012. And remember, in 2012, native son Mitt Romney headed the Republican ticket. Is the anti-trade backlash strong enough that Trump could turn that state more than 10 points in one election? Keep in mind, the last Republican nominee to win Michigan was George HW Bush in 1998.
Obama also carried Wisconsin twice, 56-42 in 2008 and 53-46 in 2012. And remember, favorite son and current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was Romney’s running mate. And the last time a Republican nominee won Wisconsin was 1984, in Reagan’s re-election landslide. Can Trump really do better in Wisconsin than Ryan?
Well, let’s focus on Wisconsin, as the politics there will be the best barometer of whether Trump can pull the upset.
Scott Walker won three Gubernatorial elections, 2010, 2012 (recall), and 2014. Barack Obama carried Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012. But for Walker, the key to winning was NOT the wealthy (which are traditionally locks for Republicans) but the middle and lower class workers. In 2012, both Romney and Walker won those earning over $100K by 20 points. But where things changed was Walker won those earning between $50K and $100K by 17 points, almost as strong as his margin in the over-$100K demographic. Romney won those voters by only 1 point. When it came to workers earning under $50K, Romney was slaughtered, losing by 25 points to Obama. Walker lost as well, but only by 9 points.
Can Trump match the numbers Walker put up? If he can, a host of states like Wisconsin and Michigan are in play. Unfortunately, there is no method of directly comparing the electorates in Walker’s three races to the demographics of a Presidential year. Walker was elected during the Tea Party rout of 2010. he was re-elected in a year of huge Republican support at the mid-term of Obama’s second term. And Walker’s 2012 win during a recall was held on a different date than the Presidential election. So while Walker put up amazing numbers among the lower income, blue collar workers Trump will need to carry, there is no way to know if they will come out in sufficient numbers this November nor if they will support Trump to the same degree. As noted, Walker carried Wisconsin three times in 4 years. And he was long gone form the 2016 Presidential race months before the first ballot was cast.
The bottom line is this: It is Clinton’s race to win or lose.
Yes, she is a deeply flawed candidate.
Yes, Bill can be a loose cannon on the campaign trail and one never knows when he will put his foot in his mouth.
Yes, Trump has pulled off a lot this election season no one would have thought possible.
But there is still massive Democratic support for Hillary.
Barack Obama has pledged to be a fixture on the campaign trail, and his approval ratings are higher now than when re-elected in 2012.
Bernie will get on board.
Biden will be the guy to hit back at Trump with one-liners of his own.
The budget, the Supreme Court, the messes in Kansas and Louisiana, the ridiculous laws Republicans have passed in any state they have gained full control over?
All are talking points in the Democrats favor.
Add in a young running mate of color (Julian Castro, Cory Booker) and really, how would Trump change 6-7 states from BLUE to RED?
231 days to go though…