First of all, I hope everyone has a safe Election Day.
Now… On to my 2016 Presidential Election Prediction!
In my final review of the polling data and national trends, I think this has shaped up to be an even closer election than many anticipated.
Unlike Brexit, the voting habits of people from different states, and US electoral college, negative advertising, campaign stops by Obama and celebrities (keep in mind, no former Republican presidential or vice presidential candidate made campaign appearances for Trump) should make this even more fascinating.
I also think the results will be so close and contested that irregularities and recounts (pushed by legal challenges) could mean we do not know the results right away.
In fact, I fully expect that if voting totals are somewhat close in states, and Clinton is on the losing side, her campaign will exercise legal challenges in those states. She is already prepared to do this. On the flip side, I do not believe the Trump campaign will do the same. This is a bit ironic given Clinton’s repeated comments on the campaign trail about accepting the winner, and the media’s slight distortion of Trump’s debate comments. However, based on each candidate’s personalities and voting realities, I think this is a smart interpretation.
With that said, my hope remains that we will have a clear winner by sometime early Wednesday morning.
OK… Here is my prediction based on the latest polls and trends…
I have Trump winning a few key battleground states cleanly enough that a recount or challenge will not change the results. Those states are: Florida and Ohio. That does not mean results in those states will not be close – they will be. But early voting data in Florida has Trump much closer than his Republican predecessors, and current polls and election day trends favor him winning. Overall, Trump winning Florida and Ohio will keep the race close through the night, and keep Clinton for getting over 300 in the electoral college.
On Clinton’s high side (meaning, if she maxes out based on polling data), I see her getting 294. On Trump’s high side, I see him the in range of 270 to 284. I also see the prospect for something that has not really been discussed in the media (in great detail), and that is a tie in the electoral college of 269 for each campaign. I think the odds of that happening are higher than people are considering.
Why do I think this?
There are three states and one congressional district that will propel one of these campaigns to victory or defeat, or get us into a tie, and they are: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, and Maine CD #2.
All three of the aforementioned states had polling results over the last week that were wildly different – showing Trump and Clinton leads, or absolute ties.
While there are other battleground states, I think Clinton will hold on to win many of these key states – making the above 3 states and one CD critical.
Polling data that shows Trump up +2 in Michigan or +1 in Pennsylvania is important to consider. If Trump actually does win those states, he wins the election. In fact, in that scenario, he could still afford to lose Nevada (most likely) and win the election. He still needs to win Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina (difficult but not impossible). But if his momentum carries to wins in either Michigan or Pennsylvania (or both), the likelihood that Trump would win states like North Carolina and New Hampshire is much higher.
Overall, I think the electoral math still favors Clinton. She has a stronger ground game than Trump and almost total support from mass media, and the announcement from the FBI has killed some of the negative air flow that change her campaign’s trajectory and knocked her back in the polls.
Most Likely 2016 Presidential Election Scenario
The most likely scenario I see right now, based on the polling data, is Clinton 294 vs. Trump 244. Other polls and predictions have Clinton winning by an even larger margin, and I think the media is factoring in very skewed polling data, their own subjective views, and the loss of the FBI investigation to predict a large Clinton victory. Other polls have her winning Florida and other states in an election landslide, but I see that as less likely.
Do not count out the Big Mo – momentum is a strange thing.
That said, I would not count out momentum or a surprise. For example, New Hampshire is a tough nut to crack based on the polls, because there are so many people from Massachusetts who have moved up to New Hampshire over the years and made the state less conservative than it once was. But Trump’s rallies and ground game there have been very strong. And his campaign message appeals more to independent voters, who make up a large percentage of voters in NH. I think the momentum in NH is solidly behind Trump.
The same impact from momentum is being felt in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Recent polls have Trump with slim leads in those states. If Trump manages to win both those states, there will be tremendous shock-waves in the media on election night. Especially since I do not think Trump did enough to win North Carolina or beat back the corrupt political machine in Nevada. If Trump wins MI, PA and NH, but loses North Carolina and Nevada, he wins the presidency 284 vs 254.
In short, Trump needs to win the three states I referenced above, and Maine’s CD #2 to win the election. If he wins the three states, but loses the congressional district, we have a tie – which could happen (I know FiveThirtyEight has the chances of that low – but I think it is higher than people really give it credit for).
Overall, this is why I think a Clinton win is likely – with 294 in the electoral college.
However, I do think there is a chance for Trump to surprise people in some states. While it is not a likely outcome, the polls suggest that he has a lot of momentum in states that have not been considered toss-ups in the last few elections. Obama beat Romney by about 10% in Michigan. One recent poll had Trump ahead by 2 or down by 5. So, those results are much closer than the past. There is similar polling results in Pennsylvania, and other states.
So, buckle your safety belts, folks. This could be an exciting ride to the finish line.
AMENDED AT 11:50 AM EASTERN
Here is my SHOCKER Elector Map that has Trump winning not just New Hampshire and North Carolina, but also Michigan.