The Presidential Election Looks Like a Hard Fought Contest
Donald Trump claims that the Presidential election is fixed. As we pointed out before, the Republican primary was highly fixed in his favor, with 80% of the delegates obtained in Winner Take All or Winner Take Most primaries.
Updates: we are updating this article for new state polls as of August 8, using New York Times recent time averages. The leads for Clinton are much smaller than the Huffington Post’s (HP) most recent poll quotes. This is partly a post Demcratic convention gain and a very bad week or two for Trump.
The National Polling Average now has Clinton with a large lead of 7%, giving Clinton with 46% and Trump with 39%. However, among the very important swing states, the largest lead is only 7%. The large lead for Clinton may mostly be from the already Democratic states having more congressional districts and electoral college votes.
The general election, which is focused on swing states, can appear to give Trump an advantage, and he is focusing on the largest swing states. The largest swing state in electoral congress delegates is Florida, with 29. Trump has several resorts and golf courses there, and goes there as his second home. He is a key employer and host in the state, which must engender him much positive publicity. Currently, Clinton is only leading him there by 2.3%, possibly of the same order as the sampling error. (HP has 6%).
The other two leading swing states are Pennsylvania with 20, and Ohio with 18. Both of these are rust belt states, where employment has been declining for decades in steel, autos, and related industries. Yes, these jobs have been going overseas. The center of Trump’s campaign is to appeal to these blue collar workers to restore jobs to America by cancelling free trade agreements, by establishing tariffs, and by fining companies that take jobs abroad with tariffs. Trump’s choice of Vice President, Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, also can bring sympathetic rust belt state voters, and conservative religious voters.
Currently, according to the NY Times, Clinton is leading in Ohio by only 0.2%, which is not significant. Clinton is now leading in Pennsylvania by 5.0%. Some of this could be a Democratic convention bounce, since the Democrats just held a successful convention in Philadelphia.
The next largest electoral vote swing states are Michigan and Georgia, each with 16, and North Carolina with 15. Clinton is leading Michigan, another rust belt state, by 6.4%. Trump is leading Georgia by only 1.0% (HP has Clinton leading by 4%). Clinton is leading North Carolina by 2.3%.
Six states have had their voter restriction laws ruled overturned by the courts, and that should help poor and minority voters in those states to vote for Clinton. Yet, they may already be counted in the polls. The states are Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, and Kansas. Four of these are listed as swing states. May we expect more?
Strong Democratic states by a 10% or higher lead in 2012 for Obama count for 191 votes. Strong Republican states by a 10% or higher lead in 2012 for Romney count for 154 votes. The winning number of votes needed is 270. Clearly, Trump has a 37 vote deficit that he has to make up in swing states. To win, Clinton needs 79 more votes, and Trump needs 116.
The sum of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio is 67 votes. The sum of Michigan, Georgia, and North Carolina is 47 votes. The sum of these top 6 swing states is 114.
If we want to cut the list down to states which are swing states by less than 7%, we eliminate Wisconsin with 10 votes going to Clinton with a 7.0% lead, and Missouri with 10 votes going to Trump with an 8.2% lead, which balance out in votes. After the 7.0% lead, the next largest lead is 6.4% in Michigan, for Clinton. So it may be the swing states with less than 7% leads that decide the outcome.
Adding the 10 votes each, Clinton needs 69 more votes, and Trump needs 106. If Clinton wins the big three swing states totaling 67, she essentially has it made. Some sources say that if Trump wins the three largest swing states, he has it made. It is exactly the opposite. Even if Trump wins the big three, he still needs 39 more votes.
Left in the recently polled swing states is Virginia with 13 votes led by Clinton by 5.3%, Iowa with 6 votes led by Clinton by 1.8%, New Hampshire, with 4 votes led by Clinton by 2.8%, and Arizona with 11 votes, led by Trump by 1.4%.
Three swing states lacking recent polling total 25 votes, and are Colorado, Minnesota, and Nevada.
The focus of three months of campaigning on mainly three or six swing states is reminiscent of the February primaries where months of campaigning are focused on only four states. Only a radical constitutional amendment to switch to a nationwide popular vote system can change this.
From a solidly Democratic California perspective, we only expect to see candidates when they fly in to use the California automatic teller funding, at private fund raisers. We expect to see no rallies or campaign ads, either. Maybe that is all for the better.