One way to think about November is using the concept of a “shadow race” between Trump and Clinton in their respective primaries.
When I checked with about 75% of the vote counted in Pennsylvania, a potential swing state with 20 electoral votes, Hillary and the Donald were doing about equally well within their own parties, but Hillary was up by almost 125,000 votes statewide.
So Pennsylvania was looking like New York a week ago: a gratifying primary win for Trump, but probably irrelevant in the general election due to the huge Democratic advantage in turnout. Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in the last 6 Presidential elections, so if Democrats are turning out in vast numbers to vote for Hillary, it doesn’t sound good for Trump.
But that perspective was exploded in the late vote counting. Late that evening, commenter PN observed:
And with 99% of the vote counted Trump ends up with about 26,000 fewer voters than Hillary — far less of an uphill climb than it seemed early last night. The real issue looking ahead to the GE is what becomes of those Bernie voters (an enormous 700,000+ in PA).
Doubtless Trump will push them to stay home or cross over. How many can he get to do either? The answer to this question seems like it will determine how the election goes as a whole.
Commenter Alex7 followed up:
With 99% of the vote counted in Pennsylvania, the total Democrats’ vote is about 1653K to the Republicans’ 1573K or a slight 51.2-48.8 Dem advantage in a closed primary. Its odd the the GOP would beat the Dems in turnout in Delaware County (where Obama won 60% in 2012) but not win the turnout for the state. However, the Western PA counties seem to explain why. The Democrats beat the Republicans in Allegheny County 220K to 120K in turnout or roughly 65-35. (Obama won that county in 2012, but with 56.5% of the vote.) Like the other counties around it, Allegheny has been trending Republican since NAFTA, so I suspect a lot of blue collar Democrats who voted for Bernie will vote for Trump in the fall. Overall, I like Trump’s chances in Pennsylvania.
It should also be noted that Dem turnout was down 30% in PA compared to 2008 and that Hillary received 350,000 less votes in 2016 than she did in 2008′s primary. In fact, Obama ’08 in PA’s primary received more votes that Hillary ’16.
Commenter Ed notes:
I went to the Wikipedia article on the 2012 election and got their list of the states where the margin of victory was under 10% last time. These are the swing states:
Florida, 0.88% – 29 electoral votes
Ohio, 2.98% – 18
Virginia, 3.87% – 13
Colorado, 5.37% – 9
Pennsylvania, 5.39% – 20
New Hampshire, 5.58% – 4
Iowa, 5.81% – 6
Nevada, 6.68% – 6
Wisconsin, 6.94% – 10
Minnesota, 7.69% – 10
Michigan, 9.50% – 16
North Carolina, 2.04% – 15
Georgia, 7.82% – 16
Arizona, 9.06% – 11
Missouri, 9.38% – 10
With the other states, if they flip, its some sort of national popular vote blow-out, probably after some real or manufactured scandal. Though Utah is a special case.
But in a close race, I don’t see Trump having to play defense anywhere. The only one of the four GOP states on the list he might have more problems with than the generic Republican nominee is Missouri, and the state has been getting redder and redder each election regardless.
Of the states on the Donk list, I expect that he will have problems with Virginia (a third of the state’s population is in the DC metro area), and the upper Midwestern states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, though trade issues will help him in Michigan. But he will get a regional advantage in the Northeast, which Romney didn’t have despite being Governor of Massachusetts for a few years since he really comes from corporate-land.
So he should target heavily Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, as well as the prototypical swing states of Florida (where he maintains a residence) and Ohio. New Hampshire doesn’t have many electoral votes, but Pennsylvania still does and is the swing state potentially most receptive to his message.
Romney needed 64 more electoral votes to get to 270, which is the lowest possible majority out of the 538 total electoral votes. Defending all of Romney’s states will be a challenge for Trump’s ability to appear Presidential. People put Romney down a lot, but he wasn’t a terrible candidate. At minimum, he seemed Presidential. He would have won quite a few elections in the late 20th Century. But in the 21st Century he couldn’t dig out of the demographic hole that Republicans had dug for themselves.
The simplest route for Trump would seem to be to hold Romney’s states and flip:
Florida, 0.88% – 29
Ohio, 2.98% – 18 (47 cumulative)
Pennsylvania, 5.39% – 20 (67)
New Hampshire, 5.58% – 4 (71)
Nevada, 6.68% – 6 (77)
Michigan, 9.50% – 16 (93)
Now, the GOPe Brain Trust has always been focused, not absurdly, on Florida. Thus the perceived need to nominate a Florida Cuban (Rubio) or a Florida Mexican-in-law (Jeb).
But … even without Florida … Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Michigan add up to 64 electoral votes, which if Trump could defend all of Romney’s states, gives him … 270 and the White House.
Now the Democrats are going to look at this list and redouble their efforts to fight the fall election on ethnic hatred lines. The Democrats are going to go to Florida and Nevada and tell Hispanics that this is Race War: Trump has insulted your illegal alien Mexican compadres and therefore has insulted Florida’s Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Hispanic Miscellaneous, who must stand shoulder to shoulder with Mexican illegal aliens and tell the White Man (i.e., Donald Trump) where he can put it. Similarly, Nevada’s Filipinos will be told over and over by Hillary’s people that they are Honorary Hispanics and Official Nonwhites.
This inevitable Democratic race-baiting strategy will be countered by Trump attempting to win Florida and Nevada on personal compatibility: Start spreading the news, Florida and Nevada are Trump kind of states!
Similarly, Hillary will try to turn Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan into a black-white race war, while Trump will try to win on industrial policy: how about some tariffs on automobiles and auto parts so everybody, black and white, can finally get a job?
Recall that in 2012 a key issue was that Obama had bailed out GM in 2009 while Romney had written an op-ed implying a laissez-faire line toward the bedrock company of the Rust Belt.
Trump won’t make that mistake.
So, Hillary is going to go to the mat on stoking anti-white racial hatred among blacks.
I don’t know how Trump will respond. If Trump is anything, he’s pro-black. He’s constantly being denounced as being anti-black, but with virtually no quotes to support that.
Who will win?
The odds favor the Democrats. But it’s been a crazy year …