Props to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight for making elections fun with visual quantification of America’s electoral scoreboard. And boy is this election fun. Trump is proving such an unpopular candidate for president that Arizona and Georgia could be on the verge of flipping blue.
Anything is possible in politics, and the three months until election day is a long time for Hillary Clinton to screw it up, but polls have been unequivocally clear that the Democratic National Convention was much better received than the Republican National Convention.
As of Saturday, August 6, at noon, Silver gives Clinton an aggregate 81.5% chance of winning Election 2016. The hour is relatively important, as Clinton’s bump in the polls has not yet hit a ceiling. Trump, meanwhile, has not yet found his floor.
This success is unusual because Hillary Clinton has not been in the news much these last few days, and Trump has been surprising conservative and liberal pundits alike with his uncanny ability to self-destruct. Clinton has either been shut out of the news cycle by Trump’s constant controversy, or she has been purposefully lying low in order to not get in the way of Trump’s epic meltdown of a week. Things are going so badly for Trump that commentators across the media are wondering aloud if he might just quit rather than lose so badly.
Trump seems to have committed himself to figuring out, officially, whether all press actually is good press. The 50-state American map, courtesy of Silver and his crew of statisticians, is suggesting that Trump’s media saturation strategy is a historically bad one.
Election 2016’s swing states can be divided into three tiers in order to understand Silver’s projections of the electoral probability either candidate wins.
The first tier is made up of traditionally blue rust belt states that Trump claims he can win on account of his opposition to trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
These are the most controversial states because, if Trump takes the lead in one or more, it means his campaign has forced an electoral paradigm shift, and that Clinton may not be able to keep Obama’s large democratic coalition together. They are also controversial because Trump keeps saying he will win these states despite there being little evidence to back it up. These states have not voted for a Republican since the 80s, and Pennsylvania is Clinton’s weakest link, though she has flirted with a double digit lead in two separate polls over the last two weeks. Silver currently gives her an 80.6% probability of winning.
The second tier of states in Trump’s strategy are the traditional swing states of Obama’s elections: Ohio, Virginia and Florida. Obama won all three in both of his elections, but, if Trump cannot flip any of the rust belt states, he absolutely must win all three. Unfortunately, Virginia’s urban growth has only dyed it bluer, and Florida is trending bluer as well, especially due to Trump’s frequent outbursts of existentialist racism. Ohio is Trump’s best hope, but Ohio without Virginia and Florida doesn’t do him much good.
We can include North Carolina in this second tier, too, as a wild card because, though Clinton is the current favorite to win, NC has alternated red-blue-red in the last three elections. It is a strategically less important state as the typical Republican OH-VA-FL strategy for crossing the 270 threshold sort of takes for granted a North Carolina victory.
The third tier of battleground states are the swing states of past elections: Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada on the blue side; and Indiana on the red side. Pundits may discuss these states as possible scenarios for upsets, but these states are medium-sized electorally and present a very uphill battle for either Clinton or Trump to flip. If these states do start flipping, something really dramatic is occurring in America’s electorate.
Overall, the electoral map looks very bad for Donald Trump, and if Georgia and Arizona join North Carolina in 2016 party flops, the map looks even worse for the GOP’s future hopes. Of course maybe it’s all wrong and Trump wins in a massive landslide—or loses and goes full fascist—but right now it looks like the self-described winner is going to lose by a lot.