Trump hasn’t led a single day in our Election Model, so it’s not even clear in which states he has the most elasticity. In fact, a lack of elasticity is Trump’s central problem; he’s never had a campaign that appealed to a majority of voters. Trump has been trailing badly since the conventions, which became the turning point in the election as he insulted a Gold Star family and seemed to attack their faith. Since then, Trump has not risen above a 12% chance of winning, and has spent most of the last few months in the single digits. SAD!
If Trump goes into Election Day with a 1 or 2 % chance of victory, it will likely be an early night, but of course that does mean there is a way, albeit tight, that he could squeeze out an electoral win. Here is his path:
Trump has to win all the Romney States.
It’s actually hard to believe that this is going to be difficult for Trump, but it is. He’s currently losing in North Carolina and Arizona, and he might lose Utah to a third party candidate. These states probably won’t determine the winner of the election, but not having them locked up months ago means Trump has to play defense and spend resources outside of the “tipping point” states.
Trump has to hold his small leads in Iowa and Ohio without significant campaigning.
He simply doesn’t have time to camp out in the states; he has other problems to worry about. What makes life even worse for Trump is that forces are conspiring against him in Ohio. There’s a senate race in Ohio this year that Democrats at one point thought they might compete for, but soon after the conventions it became clear that Rob Portman would likely win reelection. The Democrats saw an opportunity to pull out of Ohio, so that the RNC wouldn’t have to get out the vote for Portman. Of course, they’ll have to get out the vote for Trump, right? Well, several RNC officials have hinted that may or may not happen, and there was an open revolt with the Ohio GOP after the “Grab them by the P*ssy” video came out. If Trump is stabbed in the back on Election Day, it will happen in Ohio as red doors across the southern plains of the Buckeye State go conspicuously unknocked.
Finally, he has to steal Florida, Nevada, and a state to be named later.
Ok, despite the significant increase in registered Bad Hombres in both Florida and Nevada since 2012, let’s just say Trump wins both of the states. He still has to win somewhere else, and there are no good options. Maybe New Hampshire? That would lock the Electoral College at 269 a piece, and likely send the election to the House of Representatives and the country into something not unlike a civil war. Pennsylvania? Colorado? It’s pretty remarkable how much Virginia swinging blue over the last decade has completely changed the map for Republicans. Winning the Medicare vote in Ohio and Florida just isn’t enough anymore. Don’t get me wrong, those states are still important and competitive, but now they’re must win states for only Republicans, not Democrats.
Will he do it? Unlikely, but possible. It would require a host of things going wrong for Clinton between now and Election Day, as well as a systematic error in polling across a panoply of firms with extremely diverse polling methods. But possible.
From the day Donald Trump announced he was running for President I’ve wondered how he would try and wiggle out of being labeled a loser when the day came that he lost. He’s not one to walk away with his tail between his legs. He’s the kind of person that if thrown to the dungeons would conspire with the mice against the cat rather than not conspire at all. So, pre-arguments of a rigged election, while asking his supporters to poll watch and perform their own unscientific exit polls (those are almost guaranteed to make my election night) are not surprising, but have made the end of the election an unrecognizable spectacle. Elections are usually about two or more different but positive visions for the country. They’re supposed to appeal to the better angels of our nature, inspire us to work together to improve our society. To ask what we together can do, not what everyone else can do for you. To prove to the world that men and women are capable of governing themselves.
Not T-shirts that say “Trump That Bitch.” Or a candidate that threatens to jail his opponent when he wins. Maybe that’s all this ever was, Trump’s greatest reality TV show, where all of us were forced to wake up to his self-absorbed narci-cast every single morning. I don’t think he knows; I certainly never will. I don’t know anyone who loves politics more than I do, and this election will be written about for as long as the country survives, but I for one am ready to forget it forever.