The debates are over. The closing arguments for the 2016 general election campaign have begun. Barring a Hillary melt-down, she will be the President-elect of the United States in less than three weeks and does anyone think she’s capable of melting down within sight of the finish line? Trump’s capitulation notwithstanding, the world will wake up on November 9 heaving a collective sigh of relief. Will he concede? Probably in some mealy-mush-mouthed form that leaves just enough of an out for him and his bundists to reinterpret it for years to come, but that won’t matter.
So, WILL 2016 be a Hillary blowout?
The answer increasingly looks like “Hell, Yes!” Let’s revisit the things that had to have happened
[In 2012] Obama carried 51.1% of the popular vote; that victory was largely based on carrying the following demographics: Women 55-44; AfAm 93-6; Asian 73-26; Hispanic 71-27; LGBT 76-22. Do you see Hillary’s numbers going up or down in these growing constituencies against Trump? Then consider these opportunities for growth against Obama’s performance in 2012: He lost married women 53-46; he lost independents 50-45; he lost college graduates 51-47. Do you see Trump improving or worsening on Romney’s numbers in these areas?
Hillary HAS improved in all of these areas, BIGLY, and she now leads by among Men, and among the Non-college-educated. Full stop.
What else needed to happen? Here we listed what could comprise the Perfect Storm:
- “Let Trump be Trump”- Check!
- “Perception: The media “horserace” narrative must be overcome” – Check!
- “Depressed GOP turnout – especially among women, who will be subjected to months of Trump’s misogyny…Strong Dem turnout and some crossover GOP votes – especially among women and minorities.” – remains to be seen but looking like Check!
- “Vice Presidential nominees” – no effect.
- “Election strategy – Trump is the king of earned media and very little else…Hillary should be able to out-organize him everywhere.” – Check!
- “Will: CHALLENGE EVERYWHERE.” Half a Check – getting there
That last point bears examination. Hillary has foreclosed on the typical swing states and is moving into new areas. Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana are not coming along as well as we’d hoped, and South Carolina is surprisingly close, but the Clinton campaign resisted branching out into new territory until they felt they had the old territory completely wrapped up. It was this cautious (but, importantly, winning!) strategy that has narrowed the map to the point where 500+ EV seem all but out of reach, but 400 is eminently do-able.
So where does that put us? Here is where I see the map as of today:
I have a lot more in the blue column than most pundits are comfortable with right now because I am predicting that Hillary’s momentum will continue, and that GOP turn-out will be depressed. In addition, all other things being equal, a strong ground-game will net you 1-3 percentage points above predicted polls. With zero Trump ground game, and what exists of the GOP ground game torn between their local heroes and the toxic top of the ticket, the situation is dire for Republican turnout. For that reason, states that currently show mid-single-digit leads for Trump could actually end up being blue, and thus are now toss-ups.
What this map gives you is 375 Electoral Votes for Hillary, versus 86 for Trump, with 77 toss-ups. It is possible that Trump wins those 77, although I give Hillary and Evan McMullin a better chance to win Utah than Trump. But it would be strange if somehow the Trump campaign stumbled onto the formula for holding Florida or Ohio. If he wins those, it will be on the coat tails of the down-ballot races.
Rather than making it a closer race, I believe it is more possible that the entire scampaign will collapse under the featherweight at the top and a 10- to 14-point landslide could put us more in Perfect Storm range. At the very least, such a victory would flip both houses of Congress and provide a mandate for governance that would last a year. It’s more likely, however, that voter ennui and inertia will result in a solid victory for Hillary, a close but Blue Senate, and a close but Red House.
The takeaway: 270 is still a lock – always has been – but turnout and vote-splitting for a Party in such disarray as the GOP is entirely unpredictable even at this late stage. It could be a lonely landslide, or it could be a Big Blue Tsunami!
I’m voting – for the latter.