Can Trump actually win?

There are plenty of pundits saying no, he can’t win. But can he?

The Hill reports:

In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won 206 electoral votes to President Obama’s 332 electoral votes. This was an improvement over 2008 when the Republican candidate, John McCain, won only 173 electoral votes and Obama won a whopping 365.

To win the 270 votes needed to claim victory in the electoral college, Trump will have to keep every single state won by Romney — including Arizona and Georgia — and find 64 more electoral votes somewhere.

The question is where? If Trump holds all the Romney states and carries Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, he still loses.

“Every preliminary electoral-map forecast this spring paints a bleak picture for Donald Trump in his effort to win the presidency against Hillary Clinton,” Dan Balz recently wrote in the Washington Post.

Balz pointed to separate forecasts from three veteran political handicappers who make the same prediction: Trump is going to get crushed by Clinton in an electoral college landslide.

The problem I have with that analysis is that it presumes that Trump will follow in Romney’s footsteps in campaigning. I’m not so sure he will, everything we have seen so far suggests the play book should be ripped up and we should write one along the way.  

I’m not saying Trump will win, but I am saying that these pundits have been so very wrong so far and therefore until I see empirical evidence that says otherwise I will reserve judgment.

David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight suggests that it won’t be Ohio or even Florida that we should watch as key states. Rather he thinks it is Pennsylvania we should be watching:

When most people think of battleground America, they think of Florida and Ohio, two of only three states (along with Nevada) that have voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1996. They tend not to think of Pennsylvania as a classic “swing state” — it has voted for the Democrat in every election since 1992, and it didn’t even crack the top 10 in 2012 campaign ad spending.

But in 2016, Pennsylvania could be the keystone of the Electoral College and the ultimate arbiter of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


In 2016, Florida and Ohio will likely remain necessary for Trump to obtain 270 electoral votes. Predictions that 2016’s Clinton vs. Trump showdown could “scramble” the traditional red/blue map are probably overblown; political scientists1 John Sides and Andrew Gelman have found that over time, year-to-year swings between the states are getting smaller. That said, the ordering of the battleground states — from most Republican leaning to most Democratic leaning — is unlikely to stay the same, especially because 2016 is an open election.

I’d argue Pennsylvania has leapfrogged Colorado and Virginia as the next most winnable state for Republicans. In fact, it may be on pace to claim sole “tipping point” status.


As it turns out, Colorado and Virginia are among the top 10 fastest Democratic-trending states in the nation — they are, respectively, getting about 0.9 percentage points and 1.2 points more Democratic-leaning compared with the country every four years. By contrast, Pennsylvania has gradually migrated in the opposite direction. It’s gotten about 0.4 percentage points more Republican every four years.

Projecting this trend forward another four years from 2012’s results would reorder the existing battleground states on the 2016 electoral map.

Pennsylvania, where the projected Democratic share of the two-party vote would drop to 52.3 percent, would become the next most winnable state for Republicans after Florida (50.6 percent) and Ohio (51.9 percent). In fact, after Pennsylvania, the next most winnable states for Trump would be New Hampshire (52.9 percent) and Iowa (53.0 percent), followed by Virginia (53.2 percent), Wisconsin (53.4 percent) and Colorado (53.7 percent).

And how does that affect Trump?

[T]here are a few key drivers behind why Trump is likely to perform better in Pennsylvania than in Colorado or Virginia, regardless of the final national outcome:

1. The Economy — Voters are more likely to turn on the party in the White House when they perceive the economy to be doing poorly. At the moment, the economy is doing a lot better in Colorado and Virginia than it is in Pennsylvania. Gallup found that in 2015, Colorado and Virginia residents had the seventh- and eighth-highest economic confidence in the nation. Pennsylvania residents’ economic confidence was well below average.There’s also a much larger blue-collar manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania, which plays into Trump’s protectionist, “Make America Great Again” mantra. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of March 2016, 10.1 percent of Pennsylvania‘s nonfarm labor force was employed in the manufacturing or mining/logging sectors, compared with 6.6 percent inColorado and just 6.1 percent in Virginia.

2. Demographics — Older, white voters without college degrees are the bedrock of Trump’s coalition, and Pennsylvania is the sixth-oldest state in the nation. As of 2014, its median age was 40.7 years, three years older than in Virginia and four years older than in Colorado, according to the census. Pennsylvania also has a much whiter electorate. According to the Census, as of 2014, 83 percent of its eligible voters were non-Hispanic whites compared with 78 percent in Colorado and 70 percent in Virginia.But here’s the kicker: According to the Census, just 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites age 25 and older in Pennsylvania held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 43 percent in Colorado and 39 percent in Virginia. That’s a massive disparity, and whites without a college degree have been among the fastest GOP-trending groups nationally. All of these arrows point to Pennsylvania as a much more favorable electorate for Trump.

3. Voting Laws — Since the 2012 election, Colorado and Virginia have taken steps to expand participation. In 2013, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that allows same-day registration, which could reduce barriers to young and Latino first-time voters. This April, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring voting rights to 200,000 felons who have served their sentences, a move that The Upshot’s Nate Cohnestimated could boost Democrats by half a percentage point.Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s voting laws haven’t meaningfully changed. Felons who have completed their sentences have long been able to vote in the Keystone State, and in 2014, then-Gov. Tom Corbett announced he wouldn’t appeal a state court ruling striking down the GOP legislature’s strict voter ID law, which was supposed to take effect after 2012.

I wouldn’t write Trump off, plenty have and their reputations are now in tatters. It will be tough for him to win, but everyone thought he’d be sitting in Trump Towers by now cooling his heels after being ousted from the Republican primaries.


-The Hill, FiveThirtyEight


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  • axeman

    Trump is a marketing man, he will analyse his market and target it. Pure and simple he is simply applying business principals to an election process.
    If he teams up with a good running mate Id say he’s a shoe in

  • waldopepper

    are these the same people who said he wouldnt last 5 mins, didnt have a chance, blah blah blah when he first threw his hat into the ring. my countdown clock (link below) says its only 167 days till president trump. does anyone have a good recipe for humble pie that we can send them.

  • JohnO

    Scott Adams the “Dilbert” caroonist has been calling a Trump victory since well back in the primaries based on Trump’s superior persuasion skills. Pollsters like Nate Silver and David Farrer (kiwiblog) have been saying Trump has no chance while Adams has been saying he is a “shoe in”. Here is an example of Adams’ campaign analysis from his blog.

    Battle of the Campaign Slogans

    Posted May 23rd, 2016 @ 1:28pm in #Trump #clinton2016

    Hillary Clinton rolled out a new campaign slogan this weekend: “We’re stronger together.” And by new slogan, I mean it is the same as a recent Estee Lauder ad campaign slogan. But Trump borrowed from Reagan with his “Make America Great Again” slogan, so let’s score it a tie in terms of originality.

    Now let’s see how the slogans compare in terms of persuasion. I’ll start with Trump’s slogan first, then look at Clinton’s new offering.

    Make America Great Again

    Trump’s slogan uses the following persuasion techniques:

    1. Provides no targets for disagreement.

    2. Everyone has their own sense of what “great” means and how to do it. That vagueness is hardcore hypnosis technique.

    3. It speaks to identity (the strongest form of persuasion) as Americans.

    4. It suggests we lost something. Humans have more emotional connection to loss than potential gain.

    5. It has “America” in it. That word is persuasion catnip for Americans. We have been brainwashed to have a twitch response to it.

    6. It appeals to both genders.

    7. It is aspirational. We all want to be better, or to make the country better.

    Now let’s look at Clinton’s new slogan.

    We’re Stronger Together

    Clinton’s slogan uses all of the persuasion techniques listed below.

    1. None

    Maybe I should tell you what is wrong with Clinton’s slogan from a persuasion perspective. Otherwise, we’re done early.

    From a 2D perspective, where we pretend logic and reason matter, it makes perfect sense to prefer togetherness. And you can see how that might improve strength. But no one cares about the logic of it. Here’s what it gets wrong:

    1. “Together” is a concept that skews female, at least in this specific context. Estee Lauder probably thought it skewed female when they thought of it too. We’re socially primed to see women as the gender that cooperates, while men are the gender who refuse to ask directions. Clinton’s slogan suggests we are stronger when we cooperate like women. This probably plays well with women and not so well with men, at least on an identity level.

    2. “Stronger” is generally a good word, but Trump already dominates that branding. It is far too late to frame Clinton as the strong one. So it comes across as a mixed message.

    3. Togetherness sounds good(ish), but it falls short of an aspiration. No one wakes up with a passion to pursue togetherness. Half of the country is comprised of introverts, loners, and competitive a-holes. Those folks want less togetherness, even if they mean it in an entirely different way. On an irrational level, togetherness – in all its forms – is simply not a universal desire. Compare that to making America greater, which is all good, all the time, to all Americans.

    4. “Stronger together” reflexively reminds you of socialism. America already has plenty of socialist parts, but the majority of voters probably want some limits on how far it goes. By comparison, no one wants to limit how “great” America gets.

    I realize that people reading this blog consider me hugely biased in favor of Trump because I write about his persuasion skills. If you believe the Clinton slogan works on a persuasion level, and I missed a trick, let me know what I missed. The slogan looks empty to me.

    My contention is that Trump has the best persuasion skills I have ever seen. Clinton’s team seems to have no trace of that particular skill. Obviously Clinton has her own advantages, including her greater mastery of the issues.

    But I doubt the issues will matter this year. They never have before.

    • biscuit barrel

      How can he be a great persuader, when his negative ratings are the ‘highest they have ever seen’
      This is the big time, not some motley crew that were the republicans primary.
      The Electoral college numbers have a built in advantage for democrats before the race even starts. Those that say otherwise are just dreaming.
      Trumps advantage up till now has been his ‘self funding’, he is his own campaign manager and covers strategy
      This will be disadvantageous in a big spending election.

      • JohnO

        He was 15 percentage points behind Clinton 4 weeks ago in the polls. The polls are now even.
        2 billion dollars worth of free negative media against him in the primaries and he still won in a strong field of republican candidates.
        He is not just lucky. He is doing it right.

  • Martin

    More and more people have clicked that they have been cynically deceived about the clique who have bought democracy and persuaded politicians to act against the interests of voters. Hilary will go down as her involvement becomes obvious to the point where even her gender won’t save her at the polling booths.
    Trump will probably use Bush’s draconian laws like the patriot act to enact a dictatorship, but it might be just what America needs to make it great again.
    I for one welcome our new hirsute overlord!

  • Ross15

    Here is an interesting 20 year old Opara-Trump interview. Shows Trumps has had the same overall view for a long time.

    Also this list of positives about Trump is worth thinking about

    • biscuit barrel

      That short a list of positives ?
      Trump went to a conference of Jewish republicans, and made jokes that were “borderline anti semitic. ” people were stunned, it was so tasteless.
      he should have made jokes about his own ethnic group if he thought that was the way to go.

  • biscuit barrel

    You dont think ‘women who were mistreated’ by Trump wont appear ? Then there are his failed businesses- the university( real estate seminars in reality) already under investigation, the casino ( who can anyone fail to make money with a casino ?)
    Then there is his understanding of world affairs, which is beyond a joke.

    He has a core of support certainly, but it wasnt even a majority of the republican voters, which means he will struggle to get independents and democrates

    • Observer

      The NY Times has already tried that with a front page hit-piece. It backfired after one of the women featured said they had spun her comments. Also, Trump doesn’t have anyone making rape allegations against him.

  • CoNZervative

    I predict Trump will actually THRASH Clinton despte pundits (all wrong up till now); but then I’m also predicting Sanders to win the nomination at the Dems fraught convention: Here are 20 Reasons I think Trumpy will win in Nov:

    1) Trump has defied everyone including the polls and will again

    2) He is not that ‘negative’ against women

    3) Clinton has the support of African-Americans but 20% don’t back Clinton and if Trump even wins some of them he’s close to the Presidency

    4) Hispanics want jobs and Trump is talking jobs

    5) Trumps exit poll demographics are widely spread; his appeal goes across the divides of class and gender and socio-economic and even party affiliation

    6) The campaign has not even begun and he will kill Clinton or she will over play negatives against Trump

    7) Clinton’s negatives are entrenched but Trumps are not; he has room to address and remove them or at least neutralise them; her’s are set

    8) Clinton’s negatives are on honesty and integrity – political killer blows

    9) She has a genuine FBI investigation over her (which is why The Bern stays)

    10) Bernie Sanders is still campaigning hard and will hobble her path to victory

    11) Clinton will campaign traditionally; Trump is unorthodox; fresh and doesn’t follow the establishment rule-book – this will disorient Clinton’s campaign

    12) The Left will now come out with HATE HATE HATE against Trump and will over reach and damage their cause against him

    13) Any Islamic terror will play to Trump’s narrative

    14) Any Mexican drug cartels or immigrant crime issues will play to Trump

    15) Trump cleaned up in a three-horse race with over 60% of the vote in some states that suggests he has MASSIVE popular appeal that the Left and pundits have under-estimated.

    16) The intolerant violent Leftist protest movement against Trump and his supporters at his rallies will swing Middle uncommitted America over to Trump

    17) Trump will hire-in a strong shadow Cabinet that will unify the GOP and its nay-saying Establishment.

    18) His pick for VP will be inspired and swing GOP and Independent voters in behind him.

    19) The more his kids and family speak out the more votes he wins (they just look and sound so wholesome and successful and gorgeous and youthful – everything America loves); the Clinton family doesn’t cut such a smily Hollywood persona (especially with Billy Boys history). Would Lewinsky endorse Trump? Ouch!

    20) Trump seems strong against Putin; Mexico; the Chinese; ISIS; Europe; and Clinton is “Obama Term III” and regardless of personal politics this is right up there with American voters who will support Trump on that facet alone even if they hate him in others respects. “Make America Great Again” is an inspired campaign slogan with mass appeal.

    • biscuit barrel

      Where has Trump defied the polls previously, pundits yes but in general the polls have been good to him through the primaries
      Another point Sanders wont win , he cant win as the polls in the last big states new York, new Jersey dont favour him
      Dont worry I wont forget your Sanders prediction and will remind you over and over.

      • CoNZervative

        The pt is not the State delegates but the Super Delegates who can still turn at the Convention unbound if/and when Clinton becomes too high a risk; Watch (another prediction for you to remind me of over and over) as Trump pulls ahead of a Trump v Clinton contest through polls over rest of May (you heard it here first)

        • biscuit barrel

          The perception of Trump that he created to win the primaries, cant now be uncreated for the general election.
          So Sanders wins, first prediction
          Trump pulls ahead of Clinton in polls second prediction.
          Got that. Its good that you got in early, you are a brave man.
          The electoral college by states is a winner take all ( one or two small exceptions) and the democratic states have more people.

          back in early March Whaleoil wasnt so sure about a Trump victory based on this ( Pundits who he follows)
          “Consensus seems to be that Trump won’t reach 1237 delegates, but that he will get very close.”

          Sanders has only tiny support from party officials and elected people, they cant go for him now.
          The idea that he will be candidate is party of the GOP fairy tale which makes Trump electable.

          • CoNZervative

            I think Sanders is plausible because Clinton is in big trouble re the emails/foundation/benghazi/trump v C match-up (to be seen in polls late May) and the Bill C issues; so the Convention will vote BS (cute initial) in to save day (unless the Dems ring-in a Biden type third candidate

    • RealKiwi


  • localnews

    if Clinton wins, America gets four more years of the same, and more people will be sick of the establishment
    If he loses this year and runs again in four years surely Trump would be a shoe in.
    Four years of people being reminded they could have chosen that nice Mr Trump
    He can run a campaign where people take him seriously from the start.
    I think we are going to see a president Trump, and if it isnt for four years he can have all his ducks in a row for next time including having figured out what he will do as president, which he hasnt planned now

    • biscuit barrel

      When was the last time a losing candidate at the election had a second chance ? Nixon. Thats was probably related to the Vietnam war.
      Normally a president finds it easier for re-election. the idea that Trump is going to change, that will be against every bone in his body.

  • kehua

    Trump nails 1237, let the real Battle begin, eat ya heart out msm.