A Minimal Win?

Given the substantial narrowing of the race (see the 538 model, for example) it increasingly looks like election night is going to be dramatic, and the final outcome close. Currently, it looks like a narrow Clinton win as the following possible map would outline.  Clinton could also lose New Hampshire or Nevada and still win (but not both)–losing NH is unlikely, but I have heard some media speculation about a possible Trump surge, so it was worth mentioning.  There are discussions about Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, although polling indicates that those states are pretty firmly in the Clinton column.  Although, speaking of Pennsylvania, a transit strike in Philadelphia could figure into the outcomes.

North Carolina and Florida are about as swing-y as swing states can be. For example, yesterday (Thursday 11/3) the 538 model had Florida as light red, but it was light blue in the evening and was back to light red this morning.  The odds in the model for the Sunshine State, as of my writing this, is 49.6% Clinton and 50.4% Trump.  There are similar number for North Carolina.  Trump needs both states.  Clinton can win without them (barring, of course, something like Clinton losing PA–but it seems rather unlikely that Clinton loses PA but wins NC, so wargaming that kind of outcome takes us to a different level of speculation).

On one level, this is what one might have predicted for the Generic Rep v. Generic Dem if one was predicting back before we knew who the candidates would be.

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kari Q says:

    I can’t take 538 seriously this year, and Florida is a key example of why. There is basically one decent, non-partisan pollster who has found a lead for Trump in two weeks, while several have found a small lead for Clinton. But 538 ‘adjusts’ those polls so Marist, instead of showing Clinton ahead by 1, has Trump ahead by 3. How can anyone take that seriously?

    I’m sticking with Sam Wang and HuffPost Pollster.

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Hey… Everyone cheered for the Cubs when they won in a squeaker, in extra innings, right?

    We have known that the USA is polarized on two parties.

    And like it or not, one of these parties is completely ignoring the candidate and voting along party lines. (… and having read that last sentence again, depending on your pronounced political preference, it’s clearly the “other” candidates party… which in itself defines the core issue of this election.)

    We rant and rave… but we will pull the lever, fill the circle, though the screen, or punch the chad.

    270 is 270, even if it’s in the 10th inning.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    I saw, I forget where, an explanation that Silver puts more weight on recent polls than other forecasters. which is why his forecasts have been more volatile, and lately more pro-Trump. Is he right or wrong to put more weight on recent polls? I have no idea.

    This does seem to confirm that people are voting purely on perceived tribal affiliation. Since 2004, the Crazification Factor seems to have risen from 27% to about 45%. I would guess that’s the result of 12 more years of marinating in the right wing echo chamber.

    This business of stewing in the RW echo chamber seems to be getting serious. We seem to have FBI agents, perhaps even a Director, who cannot distinguish between reality and paranoid fantasy. If Doug or James are hard up for a topic, the role of the FBI in this election recommends itself. (Seems more their line of territory than yours, Dr. T.)

  4. @Kari Q: Here’s the thing, though: 538 has been the gold standard the last three cycles. To not take it seriously because it is not giving one the outcome one likes is to flirt with unskewed territory.

    This is not to say one has to to take 538 as gospel, but it is to say that in 2012 Reps were the ones criticizing 538 and look at what ended up to be the case.

  5. @Liberal Capitalist:

    270 is 270, even if it’s in the 10th inning.

    True, but (and this is a big but): I would prefer an electoral repudiation of Trumpism, and it does not appear we will get one.

  6. MBunge says:

    The issue, of course, is not that we might have had a similarly close election if two normal candidates were running. The issue is if the race would look the same if Hillary were running against what passes for a normal Republican or Trump against a normal Democrat. Some have suggested it would. I think they are wrong but I could be the one in error. What’s troubling is that if they are right, it would say something very disturbing about not only our current political culture but about the very nature of the democratic process and no one seems to grasp that.


  7. @MBunge: I would concur that there are serious problems with our democratic process. Indeed, I have written about this for some time. Off the top of my head: the nomination process (both for president and Congress), the electoral college, and the single seat district system to elect Congress.

    All of these issues (and others) do a lousy job of being actually representative of the population and that is where a lot of the frustration comes from (and that produces the kinds of candidates we get).

  8. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t take seriously adjustments in the direction of Clinton, either, and I don’t dispute that Florida is tied. That’s pretty clearly right. I just can’t respect the adjustments to polls that Silver is making. Polling is already as much art as it is science, so adding some mysterious secret sauce that modifies results is a bad idea.

    And I dispute the “gold standard” of 538. Sam Wang has been as good or better than 538. He’s just less well known because he has a day job other than predictions, so he doesn’t try to draw attention to himself for his election work the way Silver does.


  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would prefer an electoral repudiation of Trumpism, and it does not appear we will get one.

    True, True….

    But what caused “Trumpism” was not Trump. Correlation is not causation.

    We have a long American history of snake-oil salespeople who can spot the symptoms, but then completely draw incorrect assumptions and take grossly damaging actions.

    While some lament the fact that global warming received little discussion in this election cycle, the root cause of the malady facing us is the stunning change in the means of production with a population that continues to grow, expecting to share in the gains of productivity.

    Fat chance.

    Less and less do we need people.

    Trump has rattled the cages of the displaced and disaffected. That part is easy.

    Actually doing something is the rub.

    * Do we increase public works government spending to employ those who feel underemployed?
    * Will engagement in public works provide people the stability they desire?
    * Who will pay for this, as more wealth continues its upwards flow?
    * Do we create that minimum income (as guaranteed by universal heath care and public assistance?)

    We have absolutely miraculous technologies that eliminate scores of jobs, and all this will accelerate in the next 30 years.

    It really pisses me off that I have degrees in Sociology and Political science (minor in Geography, yippee.)… because who actually wants to talk about this stuff? For 95% of the USA, ignorance is beyond bliss.

    Most want to keep it at some level of monkey poop-flinging.

    More and more, we face Ideocracy. Soon, self-driving cars with “ow my balls” playing while we go to some big box store.

    We aspire to Altruism, but I have faced the reality of the USA: Make the money, find an exit plan, and bail.

    Those displaced will not have that option but “will cling to their guns and bibles”… no surprise there either.

    And nothing changes.

    Yeah, I’m being a loud mouthed jerk today. But when half the population is lining up to decide that what we have isn’t worth saving, well, F’em and good luck with that.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    True, but (and this is a big but): I would prefer an electoral repudiation of Trumpism, and it does not appear we will get one.

    By ‘electoral repudiation’ do you mean that an outcome of a wider electoral victory for Democrats is that they regain control of the Senate or the House?

    Because even if Hillary gets 319 and Trump 219, if the Senate and House remain Republican nothing changes. Republicans are prepared to run the same opposition-operation toward Clinton that they ran against Obama. And of course, they’ve already indicated that more investigations and impeachment is already on the table.

    Normally I’d say that Republicans are engaging in inflammatory rhetoric – but really, these days, they mean it. They shut down the government twice in 5 years over their demands that ACA be repealed, and they now refuse to, et minimis, even conduct hearings on the nomination of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.

  11. @Liberal Capitalist: @al-Ameda: Yes, I fully understand the long-term problems described, and that getting rid of Trump as a candidate does not solve all the problems (not by a longshot)..

    Trump, however, and what I think of as “Trumpism” is linked to issues such as naked white nationalism and alliance with the alt-right as well as know-nothingism elevated to new national levels. It is the embrace of authoritarianism, at least symbolically. It is denial of democratic norms. It is more than that as well, but I do not have time for lengthy discussions at the moment. and yes, you can find examples of that in our politics apart from Trump. But it matters that the national standard bearer is championing these things. And if it is seen as a fully viable pathway to the presidency, it will deepen and mature and come back in a better package in 2020.

    If there was an EC drubbing and the loss of states like Arizona, that would get the attention of those seeking power. If Trump loses but loses by a hair, that will send a different signal.

  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We are not in disagreement at all. But again, you discuss the personified ugly symptoms.

    Even if Clinton swept the Electoral College and popular vote, with control of the Senate and House as well, we still have the underlying cause.

    It will blow up in our face in some sort of Elysium nightmare The rich flourish, the poor are lost and fight amongst themselves for trivial perceived differences.

    Accelerated change that does not require people. Our way of coping with this is not keeping up with that. And we have NO idea what to do about it.

    Not a clue, and no discussion of it.

    But lots of discussions about poo-flinging trivialities.

    No matter who decides to lead the charge up the greased pole, it does not remove the underlying cause.

    The most moronic quote that I read today: Mike Huckabee:

    “Trump may be a car wreck, but at least his car is pointed in right direction.”

    Really? Is it?

    I would LOVE to hear from a True Trump Supporter how exactly a Trump presidency will address this.

    Because when I look at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/ , I see an increase in public spending, and an increase in taxes on the poor. (those earning less than 75K will pay 12%. No breaks for poor) and economic growth based on trickle down.

    Screw it. It’s Friday. I’ve already voted. I should just put away the laptop for the weekend.

    Maybe “Ow my balls” is on TV.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: All valid. The political question for this generation will be whether we end up with something that looks more like Star Trek or Czarist Russia. The question for the past generation was whether as inevitable globalization took over we would do anything to ease the transition for the average American worker or do nothing. Doing something would have required taxing rich people, so we didn’t. Doing something about job loss from automation and AI will require taxing rich people.

    I don’t know what to do about it except vote for Dems. There’s an off chance Dems might listen to experts, try to anticipate events, and do something. There’s no chance R’s will do anything except what they’re doing now about AGW, protecting rich people and corporations against having to do anything. .