Electoral Math: Ten Days Out

At six months to go before the election, Presidential Politics for America projected a 276 to 262 Electoral College result in favor of Hillary Clinton. Three months later, Clinton extended her projected win to 320 to 218. Then, at the one-month mark, the projected lead was drastically cut to 272 to 266. With the three debates behind us and just ten days ahead, has anything changed? Can yesterday’s Trump optimism come to fruition? Let’s find out.

First, we start with our “walls.” The Blue Wall is safe, and in fact I think we should add a brick. New Mexico polling, with third party candidates (including former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson) and without, shows Clinton with big leads. Between that spread and a state that’s nearly half Latino, I don’t see how Trump makes up the gap.

Meanwhile, the Red Wall has lost a couple bricks. One comes from the least likely of states: Utah! Thanks to a third (fifth?) party run from native son Evan McMullin, Donald Trump struggles in Utah state polling and might become the first Republican to lose the state since 1964. Meanwhile, Clinton has made steady gains in Arizona and now has a small lead in the state. Both have been moved to the toss-up category.

Growing the Blue Wall and contracting the Red Wall foreshadows how the electoral math has trended since the one-month mark. In today’s race, Clinton starts out at her biggest initial lead yet: 239 to 175 with ten battleground states in play. I call those states the Presidential Politics for America Purple Playing Field (or PPFAPPF), and it has 124 electoral votes up for grabs. Here are those states and their electoral value:

The Purple Playing Field: Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Colorado (9), Utah (6), Nevada (6), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4).

And below is a prediction of how they’ll vote on November 8:


Florida (29 electoral votes)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 46.5, Trump 42.2 (Clinton +4.3)
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 44.7, Trump 42 (Clinton +2.7).
One Month Out polling average: Clinton 46.6, Trump 43.4 (Clinton +3.2).
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 46.8, Trump 45.0 (Clinton +1.8). Like last time, for each of today’s polling averages I’ll only use two-way polling unless a three- or four-way with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein provides a sizable discrepancy. The reason is because I think most Johnson/Steiners willing to offer a preference in a two-way race will end up going with one of the two major parties. Otherwise, they’d be listed as undecided in the two-way.)
Miscellaneous: Trump is still gaining, but it looks like, through the polls at least, he is running out of time to take the lead. Do we think, with the Democrats’ superior ground game, including reaching out to Latinos that some believe are underpolled, that Trump can reverse the lead and get his people to the polls? I don’t see it.
Current edge: Clinton
Running tally (which started at 239 – 175, Clinton): 268-175, Clinton. With Florida, Clinton is already just two electoral votes shy of a win. Any remaining state can put her over the top. In fact just flipping Maine’s second Congressional district, which I’ve given to Trump in the last two projections but where she’s making headway, can get her to 269, at least a tie.

Pennsylvania (20)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Democratic
2000: Democratic
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 45.8, Trump 38.8 (Clinton +7.0)
Three Months out polling average: Clinton 49.3, Trump 41.3 (Clinton +8.0)
One Month out polling average: Clinton 49.0, Trump 41.5 (Clinton +7.5)
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 46.8, Trump 41.8 (Clinton +5)
Miscellaneous: Trump is making excruciatingly slow progress here, and he has probably run out of time to make up a five-point deficit. A win here would mean serious polling errors. If you trust the polls, however, Pennsylvania is a blue state for the seventh straight election.
Current edge: Clinton
Running tally: 288-175, Clinton. She wins, and this might be a blowout in the making.

Ohio (18)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 45.5, Trump 42.5 (Clinton +3)
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 42.6, Trump 41.8 (Clinton +0.8)
One Month Out polling average: Trump 45.2, Clinton 44.0 (Trump +1.2)
Ten Days Out polling average: Trump 46.2, Clinton 45.2 (Trump +1.0)
Miscellaneous: Have we reached a tenuous equilibrium with a microscopic Trump lead? The polls have barely budged since the one-month mark. In the six polls released in the last two weeks, we have three Trump leads of 4, 3, and 1, two ties, and one Clinton 2-point lead. Ohio will again be dramatic, but it looks like Trump is holding on.
Current edge: Trump
Running tally: 288-193, Clinton.

North Carolina (15)
2012: Republican
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 45.8, Trump 42.5 (Clinton +3.3)
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 44.0, Trump 43.5 (Clinton +0.5)
One Month Out polling average: Clinton 45.0, Trump 43.7 (Clinton +1.3)
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 47.8, Trump 44.8 (Clinton +3)
Miscellaneous: For a state that has gone Republican in three of the last four election, recent polls look surprisingly blue. In fact, 17 of the last 18 North Carolina polls have gone to Clinton. Though 12 of those polls were between 1 and 3 points, it’s pretty consistent.
Current edge: Clinton
Running tally: 303-193, Clinton

Arizona (11)
2012: Republican
2008: Republican
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 43.5, Trump 42.0 (Clinton +1.5)
Miscellaneous: I have no earlier Arizona averages because Arizona used to be part of the Red Wall, so it did not qualify for earlier posts. Interestingly, there wouldn’t even have been data earlier than August; it was only then that pollsters started realizing Arizona was in play. A mid-August poll showed Trump with a 7-point lead, but that has totally evaporated. Three October polls show two Clinton leads — 5 and 2 — while in the other Trump is up just one.
Current edge: I’m going out on a limb and calling this one for Clinton, because the Arizona momentum is with her as of today. However, one or two polls in the next week that show Trump up will easily revert Arizona to the red column in my final electoral math column of this election. (Tentatively scheduled for November 7.)
Running tally: 314-193, Clinton

Colorado (9)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: We had no relevant polling (only a November one).
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 45.0, Trump 35.5 (Clinton +9.5).
One Month Out polling average: Clinton 44.3, Trump 40.8 (Clinton +3.5)
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 45.8, Trump 39.0 (Clinton +6.8)
Miscellaneous: This alllmost made the Blue Wall, but Trump trailed by just 2 in the most recent poll. The five previous pollsters found two leads of 5 and three leads of 11.
Current edge: Clinton
Running tally: 323-193, Clinton

Utah (6)
2012: Republican
2008: Republican
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Ten Days Out polling average
: Trump 31, McMullin(!) 25.2, Clinton 25.2 (Trump  +5.8)
Miscellaneous
: Welcome to the most exciting state in the election! The aforementioned Evan McMullin has really stung Trump in the Beehive State. He has bifurcated the Republican vote, which has given Clinton a puncher’s chance at a monumental upset. What’s more, Trump’s lead is probably overstated in this average. It includes a “pre-peak-McMullin” poll where Trump had a 17-point lead. But McMullin has since led a poll by four points. Do you feel that? That’s McMulMentum!
Current edge
: Trump, but if Trump collapses in the last week, Utah might sooner give it to McMullin than endorse Trump in a losing cause.
Running tally: 323-199, Clinton

Nevada (6)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: None.
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 43.0, Trump 40.7 (Clinton +2.3)
One Month Out polling average: Clinton 44.2, Trump 43.0 (Clinton +1.2)
Ten Weeks Out polling average: Clinton 45.8, Trump 43.8 (Clinton +2)
Miscellaneous: Trump reached his Nevadan perigee at the one-month mark. He has since trailed in six of the last eight polls, all but one by at least 4 points, and managed a tie and a 3-point lead in the others. Remington Research gave him hope with that 3-point lead, but it’s a Republican pollster and clearly an outlier.
Current edge: Clinton
Running tally: 329-199, Clinton

Iowa (6)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Republican
2000: Democratic
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 45, Trump 41 (Clinton +4)
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 41.3, Trump 40.8 (Clinton +0.5)
One Month Out polling average: Trump 45.3, Clinton 40.5 (Trump +4.8)
Ten Days Out polling average: Trump 44.0, Clinton 42.3 (Trump +1.7)
Miscellaneous: Look at Iowa holding on for Trump! Eat corn, Democrats!
Current edge: Trump
Running tally: 329-205, Clinton

New Hampshire (4)
2012: Democratic
2008: Democratic
2004: Democratic
2000: Republican
Six Months Out polling average: Clinton 44.8, Trump 35 (Clinton +9.8)
Three Months Out polling average: Clinton 45.0, Trump 38.0 (Clinton +7)
One Month Out polling average: Clinton 45.0, Trump 39.8 (Clinton +5.2)
Ten Days Out polling average: Clinton 45.0, Trump 38.8 (Clinton +6.2)
Other factors: Serious Blue Wall candidate for next time.
Current edge: Clinton.
Running tally: 333-205, Clinton


General Thoughts

1) By comparison, the 2012 race had almost an identical total. Obama beat Romney with a 332-206 result in the Electoral College. Clinton’s one added electoral vote stems from winning the Romney states of North Carolina (15) and Arizona (11), giving her 26 electoral votes between the two, while losing Obama’s states of Ohio (18), Iowa (6), and Maine’s Second Congressional District (1), losing 25 electoral votes between the three.

2) I don’t care if I projected a blowout; I really like my “What If It’s a Tie?” piece and insist on linking to it.

3) The McMullin surprise could have fascinating repercussions. If McMullin takes Utah and Trump storms back to an electoral count in the mid-260s, that would keep Clinton under 270 and send the election to the House, with each state’s House delegation getting one vote. We would have the same scenario that Gary Johnson gave us when he was threatening in New Mexico (discussed at the One Month Out projections). McMullin would be eligible in the House election, which favors a Republican. Being a much more typical conservative Republican than Trump, McMullin could conceivably win such a tie-breaker. He could also split Republican states and block all three candidates from reaching the 26 states necessary to win the House election. (If only there were a place to read about what would happen next.)

4) I’ll have one final edition of electoral math, probably on the day before the election. Check back then!

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