Friday, November 04, 2016

The Battleground At Race’s End


Today is the last day of Early Voting in many states, meaning that the race after today comes down to Tuesday.   Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns are busy working to get out the vote, and the media is pretty much acting the way they have all campaign.  The Internet is full of all kinds of predictions, from psychics to professors and computers.  I’m kind of old school, in that I still find the polls useful in gauging the location of where each candidate stands.  So this post is a brief look at the last part of the last leg of this marathon.

Presidential elections in the United States depend on the Electoral Vote, not the Popular Vote.  So, while national polls can give a snapshot of the overall mood of voters, it can miss the condition and position of each campaign.   So I want to start by looking at the Electoral condition.  While some people are very critical of political opinion polls, and believe me there are good reasons why major players like Gallup and Pew flat-out abandoned polling for the candidates’ support in this year’s race, the polls do give us a good idea of the electoral condition.

Using the averages from Real Clear Politics state polling,
Hillary Clinton has commanding leads in fourteen states plus D.C. for 195 electoral votes.  She needs 75 more votes to win.  Donald Trump, meanwhile, has commanding leads in nineteen states for 159 electoral votes.  He needs 111 more votes to win.  There are seventeen states where the leading candidate has a margin of seven points or less, as depicted in the chart below:   



 RCP Averages


STATE
EV
T
C
U

range
Iowa
6
44
44
7

0.0
New Hampshire
4
42
41.5
6.5

0.5
North Carolina
15
46.33
45
5.33

1.3
Colorado
9
40
41.5
8

1.5
Florida
29
46
47.5
2.5

1.5
Alaska
3
37
34
17

3.0
South Carolina
9
42
38
11

4.0
Maine
4
39.67
44
7.33

4.3
Arizona
11
48
43.5
3.5

4.5
Pennsylvania
20
42.5
47.17
6

4.7
Michigan
16
43.5
48.5
3

5.0
New Mexico
5
40
45
4

5.0
Ohio
18
46
41
6

5.0
Virginia
13
41
46.5
6

5.5
Nevada
6
49
43
3

6.0
Wisconsin
10
40
46
7

6.0
Oregon
7
34
41
9

7.0

The minimum number of states Hillary needs to close the deal on to win, is four, while Trump must win at least six of these states to win.  Those numbers are based on claiming the top EV states left in play; if current leads hold for these 17 states, Hillary Clinton would get at least 307 EV to Trump’s 225 (Iowa is dead even in poll average right now). 

Important to keep in mind, though, is the undecided vote.  Twelve of these seventeen states have undecided numbers greater than five percent, meaning this could easily change the final result.  Also important to keep in mind, is the margin of error.  If the sum of the MOE plus the undecided vote is clearly greater than the range between the two candidates, that state has to be considered in play.  Whether or not you agree with the polls, the fact that seventeen states remain in play to some degree immediately before the election should serve as clear evidence of how volatile the outcome remains.   


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