If you live in a red or blue state, you have no voice in choosing the next president. Red states will be carried by Trump, blue ones by Hillary. Hillary doesn’t have to spend a dime in California, Illinois, or New York. She is guaranteed to win those and all other blue states. Similarly, Trump will carry every red state without breaking a sweat.
The race will be decided in purple (swing) states where the outcome is uncertain. A few percentage points one way or the other will decide those outcomes. At most there are 13 states that could be considered purple, but the likelihood is that the presidential race will be determined in 6 or 7.
Purple states include or may include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico. North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, although I think the race will be decided by Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia.
Florida has 29 electoral votes, Nevada 6, North Carolina 15, New Hampshire 4, Ohio 18, and Virginia 13. Those states control a total of 85 electoral votes and represent less than a quarter of the voting public. In 2012 some 125 million votes were cast for president. These purple states accounted for less than 25 million votes, only about 20% of the vote.
Of those 25 million votes, the outcomes in the purple states were determined by less than two percent of the votes cast, or 500,000 people. Had half of those voted the other way, 250,000 people would have elected Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.
One-fifth of one percent! A quarter of a million out of 125 million!
To put it into perspective, a single voter in a purple state can have the voting power of five hundred voters in a red or blue state!
By the numbers, there are more Democrats than Republicans in each swing state. But Republicans vote in greater percentages than do Democrats, so the races will be close.
Trump voters are more enthusiastic than are Hillary voters, but there are fewer of them. The race will be determined by how many Hillary voters stay home.
Conversely, Trump appeals to a segment of the electorate that has been disenfranchised for decades. Proof of that phenomenon can be seen in the astounding turnout in the Republican primaries. Trump won more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history.
Independent voters appear to be breaking for Hillary. The question being whether they will break her way in sufficient numbers to offset the loss of votes to Jill Stein by progressive Democrats and the loss of votes by stay-at-home Democrats.
Under 30 voters fueled Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and supported him by margins exceeding 80%. While they are nearly unanimous in their opposition to Trump, they are almost as indifferent to Clinton. Absent other motivations to go to the polls it is unlikely Hillary will enjoy anything like the support that Bernie commanded among young voters.
To use a sports analogy, Hillary has a wide, shallow bench. Trump’s is narrower, but considerably deeper.
The wild card is voter turnout.
The most recent CNN poll has Trump leading Hillary nationally by 2%, but as we discussed, national popularity is of no consequence. ABC has Hillary leading in purple states. With less than 9 weeks to go, the race is up for grabs.
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