The Big Swings

By Jim Ellis

July 21, 2016 — If we use the 2012 presidential map as the starting point for projecting the current campaign’s outcome, we can see that the race could literally be determined in three large swing states. If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump maintain the states that President Obama and Mitt Romney each won four years ago with the exception of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, such a configuration would result in a Trump national victory.

To review, President Obama received 332 Electoral Votes, winning 26 states and the District of Columbia. Romney took 24 states for a total of 206 Electoral Votes. The grand total for Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is 67 Electoral Votes, meaning Trump winning all three would give him 273 national votes and ultimate victory. It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Presidency.

A Trump victory is also dependent upon him carrying the 22 states that have gone Republican in every presidential election of this century, and Indiana, which strayed only in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the Hoosier State by one percentage point. The addition of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to the ticket should help in that regard, if any is needed.

The model also requires Trump to win North Carolina (15 EVs), which is becoming much more of a swing state. Obama won there in 2008, but lost it to Romney four years later. In each case, the margin of victory was very small. Obama nipped John McCain by just three-tenths of one percentage point, and Romney claimed the state by just 2.1 points.

Under this model, where do the Big Swing states stand today? Several surveys from diverse pollsters have been conducted in each place during the June 22 to July 15 period. In no state poll were Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein included. Here are the summary numbers:

Florida

(All polls conducted between June 27 and July 11; polling samples between 700 and 1,619 registered voters; results are listed in chronological order.)

Hillary Clinton (D) — 44%
Donald Trump (R) — 37%
NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College

Donald Trump (R) — 42%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 39%
Quinnipiac University

Donald Trump (R) — 47%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 42%
JMC Analytics

Donald Trump (R) — 49%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 49%
Gravis Marketing

Ohio

(All polls conducted between June 27 and July 15; polling samples between 848 and 1,270 registered voters; polls are listed in chronological order.)

Hillary Clinton (D) — 44%
Donald Trump (R) — 40%
CBS News/YouGov

Donald Trump (R) — 39%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 39%
NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College

Donald Trump (R) — 41%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 41%
Quinnipiac University

Hillary Clinton (D) — 49%
Donald Trump (R) — 48%
Gravis Marketing

Pennsylvania

(All polls conducted between June 22 and July 11; polling samples between 829 and 1,958 registered voters; polls are listed in chronological order.)

Hillary Clinton (D) — 45%
Donald Trump (R) — 36%
NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College

Donald Trump (R) — 43%
Hillary Clinton (D) — 41%
Quinnipiac University

Hillary Clinton (D) — 50%
Donald Trump (R) — 48%
Gravis Marketing

Hillary Clinton (D) — 46%
Donald Trump (R) — 42%
Public Policy Polling

Several points are important to remember. First, these numbers are close across the board, meaning all three states are virtually tied. Second, not including Johnson and Stein definitely affects the final projection. In national polls where they are included, Trump usually runs a point or two closer to Clinton. Therefore, in these critical, difference-making states a point or two swing could clearly alter the outcome. Third, to win the presidency, if the conversion states are limited to only to the aforementioned, Trump would have to win all three. Clinton winning any one of the states would likely be a precursor to a national victory.

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