Archive

Please reload

Tags

Please reload

MAPematics

October 2, 2020

A look at the electoral college map, as it currently stands, for the November 3, 2020 Presidential Election

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A week ago, I began writing this analysis of the electoral college map in hopes of better understanding the various election scenarios that we face as we approach November. A few days in, a family member sent me Nate Silver's analysis from FiveThirtyEight (538 represents the total number of electoral votes in the electoral college) - that darn Nate Silver! Always trying to one up me!

 

According to Silver, the Biden-Harris ticket is expected to win 352 electoral votes (or "EVs" as I'll often refer to them herein). That's a statement win. For context, the Obama-Biden ticket won 332 EVs in 2012 over Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

 

Bottom line the 538 model projects Biden will win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio - each of which Clinton lost in 2016.

 

I believe the election night tally will be closer than Silver predicts but I'd be thrilled to be wrong!

 

Without further ado, let's see how my various models play out.

 

 

CONTEXT

 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by over 3 million votes, however, Donald Trump won the electoral college by less than 78,000 votes across three states giving him the Presidency.

 

The logic of our system still confounds me. In a country that prides itself on the notion that the (person / team) with the (most points / best score) wins, we allow ourselves to be governed by someone who got 3 million fewer votes. It's a bit ridiculous.

 

Even more so when you realize that our Supreme Court will now have 5 appointees made by Presidents who lost the popular vote, and 4 by Presidents who won the popular vote. So the highest court in our land represents a political philosophy that doesn't actually reflect the will of the people? It's just counterintuitive in every way.

 

With that in mind, remember that Michelle Obama said during the DNC that the margin of victory was as little as 2 votes per precinct in some 2016 battlegrounds states. Just 2 votes. So Vote! Every. Vote. Counts.

 

 

The key to the 2016 election were the states that flipped from Obama to Trump: Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. In addition, Clinton lost ground from 2012 in the split of electoral votes in Maine, Washington, and Hawaii - part of which was the result of "faithless" electors.

 

To really understand how a few counties changed the direction of our entire nation check out this map that shows which counties flipped to Republican in 2016 from 2012.

 

 

In this piece I will dig into past electoral maps and attempt to look into my "crystal ball" for the future.

 

My personal belief is, all things being equal, Joe Biden will prevail in November with over 304 electoral college votes and the Democrats will regain control of the Senate. That 304 is the middle case scenario. There's a worst case, which puts us in the middle of a constitutional crisis, and a best case which exceeds even Nate Silver's projections.

 

How did I get to this conclusion? Let's start with the 2016 electoral math and bust out some "MAPematics."

 

 

2016 ELECTORAL MAP

 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 227* electoral votes through the following states:

 

California - 55

New York - 29 

Illinois - 20

New Jersey - 14

Virginia - 13

Mass - 11

Maryland - 10

Minnesota - 10

Colorado - 9

Washington - 8

Oregon - 7

Connecticut - 7

Nevada - 6

New Mexico - 5

New Hampshire - 4

Rhode Island - 4

Vermont - 3

Hawaii (split) - 3

Delaware - 3

DC - 3

Maine (split) - 3 of 4

 

*Clinton actually won 232 but 5 "faithless" electors voted for another candidate in the electoral college. Interestingly enough the reason they defected was an attempt to make it so Trump couldn't attain the 270 needed to become President in hopes of triggering a contingent election in congress.

 

For reference, Obama won in 2012 with 332 electoral votes; 105 more than Clinton.

 

 

2020 ELECTORAL MAP

 

What does the 2016 map tell us about the 2020 map? Let's start by seeing if Biden is going to at least win the states Hillary won in 2016.

 

A review of these states' 2016 voting numbers and their 2020 polling, as well as recent midterm elections, tells us that Joe Biden is likely to win all the states that Hillary Clinton won in 2020 for an approximate total of 232 (it is unlikely the faithless elector scenario will playout again in 2020).

 

California - 55

New York - 29 

Illinois - 20

New Jersey - 14

Virginia - 13

Mass - 11

Maryland - 10

Minnesota - 10

Colorado - 9

Washington - 12

Oregon - 7

Connecticut - 7

Nevada - 6

New Mexico - 5

New Hampshire - 4

Rhode Island - 4

Vermont - 3

Hawaii - 4

Delaware - 3

DC - 3

Maine (split) - 3 of 4

 

This means that Joe Biden needs to pick up at least 38 EVs to get to the 270 needed to become the President Elect. Where can he pick up those 38?

 

Let's start with the states Hillary Clinton lost by the slimmest of margins in 2016, ranging from 0.23% up to 3.66%; these states total 101 electoral votes:

 

Florida (1.2%) - 29 EVs

Pennsylvania (.72%) - 20 EVs

Michigan (.23%) - 16 EVs

North Carolina (3.66%) - 15 EVs

Arizona (3.54%) - 11 EVs

Wisconsin (.77%) - 10 EVs

 

This bears repeating. Hillary Clinton lost 101 EVs to Donald Trump by anywhere between 0.23% to 3.66%. Talk about no room for error on either side! EVERY VOTE COUNTS! (In case you already didn't know).

 

 

So where does Joe Biden stand with these states?

 

Florida - [range from +1 to -4%] - 29 EVs

Pennsylvania - [+9%] - 20 EVs

Michigan - [+8%] - 16 EVs

North Carolina - [range from even to +2] - 15 EVs

Arizona - [range from -1% to +2%] - 11 EVs

Wisconsin - [+8%] - 10 EVs

 

In the interest of being conservative with our projections, I suggest we take Florida off the board. If Biden were to win Florida he would likely meet or exceed Obama's 2012 electoral vote total and win in convincing fashion.

 

That leaves us Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, and Wisconsin, which account for a grand total of 72 EVs. Remember, according to our model, Biden only needs 38 of these. 

 

In 2016, the states that delivered Trump the Presidency were Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If Biden were to win these three alone, he would prevail in November, by 8 EVs.

 

Interestingly enough if Biden were to win Arizona and North Carolina, he would not need to win either Michigan or Wisconsin.

 

Clearly there are many roads to 270 for the Biden-Harris Ticket. Let's see how these battleground states are shaking out right now.

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA

 

Hillary lost Pennsylvania by .72% after winning 2,926,441 or 47.46% of the vote. She lost the state by a grand total of roughly 44,000 votes.

 

However, just 2 short years later, the Democrats picked up 3 house seats and 54.97% of the vote in the 2018 midterms. While the total votes cast were 200,000 fewer for the Democrats than for Hillary in 2016, this is to be expected as there's generally a drop-off in turnout during no presidential elections. For reference, the GOP experienced an approximate 750,000 vote drop-off from 2016 to 2018, resulting in a net Democrat gain of roughly 500,000 votes from the 2016 race on a differential basis.

 

The 2018 result was a 1.25 million vote uptick from 2014 when the Democrats only won 5 total house seats and Biden is now polling significantly higher than Clinton's 2016 performance. The trendline is clearly heading in the Democrats direction here. I believe Biden will win Pennsylvania on November 3rd - which is important given that he is often known as "Scranton Joe" in addition to being referred to as Pennsylvania's third Senator.

 

If you're wondering what may have caused PA to move away from Trump given their 2016 outcome, I believe the people of PA began to reject Trumpism after the Tree of Life Pittsburgh synagogue shooting of October 27, 2018.

 

For this and other reasons, even the former GOP Governor of PA, Tom Ridge, has endorsed Biden.

 

 

MICHIGAN

 

Hillary lost Michigan by .23% or less than 11,000 votes. Clinton won 2,268,839 or 47.27% of the vote in 2016, whereas Donald Trump won 2,279,543 votes. Just 2 years later, however, Governor Whitmer won Michigan by nearly 400,000 votes. That year, Michigan also flipped 2 house seats blue and the Democrat won the senate race by over 270,000 votes. 

 

Currently, Biden leads in Michigan by roughly 8% over Trump. The trendline is most assuredly blue in Michigan, suggesting the Democrats will prevail once again.

 

Just as in Pennsylvania, the former GOP Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, has also endorsed Biden.

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA

 

Hillary lost North Carolina by 3.66% after winning 2,189,316 or 46.17% of the vote. In 2016 Donald Trump won 2,362,631 votes.

 

Currently, according to A grade pollsters, Biden is polling in North Carolina with a slight lead ranging from 2-4% which would suggest a nearly 7 point swing from 2016. Fox News recently shows Biden ahead by 4 points but others, such as the Siena College and NYT poll, suggest the race is much tighter than that.

 

Senate candidate Cal Cunningham (D) is polling with a 4-6 point lead in the state over incumbent Tillis (R). Democratic Governor Cooper is polling with a lead as large as 12 points in the state.

 

This makes North Carolina a triple threat state where the President, Senator, and Governor can all go Blue in November.

 

 

ARIZONA

 

Hillary lost Arizona by 3.54% after winning 1,161,167 or 45.13% of the vote. In 2016 Donald Trump won 1,252,401 votes.

 

However 2 years later, Kyrsten Sinema won an Arizona Senate seat by winning 1,191,100 votes; roughly 30,000 more than Hillary. That's important because at the time, AZ's previous Senators were John McCain and Jeff Flake - both Republicans. Arizona also flipped a congressional house seat that same year. In 2018 the Democrats flipped the 2nd congressional district in Arizona and pulled in a total of 1,179,193 (50.37%) votes for the house of representatives; roughly 18,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton.

 

Democrats usually perform worse in mid-term elections than general elections so the fact that the Democrats won more aggregate votes in 2018 than they did in the 2016 Presidential race is encouraging. The 2020 Senate race also projects to flip a Senate seat in 2020 as seat as Kelly is leading McSally by 1-5 points according to A+ pollsters per fivethirtyeight.com.

 

Just as with PA and MI, Biden has secured a high profile GOP endorsement in AZ via Cindy McCain.

 

Currently, according to A+ grade pollsters, Biden is polling in Arizona with a slight lead ranging from as low as a 1% loss to a 5% win. This is a race to pay close attention to!

 

 

WISCONSIN

 

Hillary lost Wisconsin by .77% or less than 23,000 votes. Clinton won 1,382,536 or 46.45% of the vote in 2016, whereas Donald Trump won 1,405,284 votes. Just 2 years later, however, Governor Evers (D) won Wisconsin by nearly 30,000 votes.

 

That year, Wisconsin Democrats also won their Senate race by nearly 300,000 votes and the House races by nearly 200,000 votes. In the Senate race, Baldwin won over 90,000 votes more than Clinton herself. In the congressional races the Democrat candidates nearly matched Clinton's 2016 vote total - a rarity for midterm elections.

 

Currently, Biden leads in Wisconsin by 8% over Trump. The trendline is most assuredly Blue suggesting the Democrats will prevail once again. However, Wisconsin has become far more polarizing lately as a result of the police involved shooting of Jacob Blake and the protest killings by Kyle Rittenhouse, meaning it is still possible Trump wins Wisconsin in November.

 

 

SCENARIO ANALYSIS

 

MY PREDICTION:

 

Based on this data it appears that Biden-Harris are projected to prevail in Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin, which would suggest a total of 304 EVs. This is my prediction for the November election.

 

SILVER PREDICTION:

 

Nate Silver takes things a step further by projecting that Biden-Harris will also win Florida and Ohio for a grand total of 352 EVs. I hope he's correct, but I do not want to take that for granted. Especially as both States have Republican Governor's and State Legislatures, meaning the GOP controls how these States run their elections. Fortunately there are no Senate seats in play in these States this November.

 

 

BEST CASE SCENARIO:

If there is indeed a Blue Tsunami next month, Biden could decimate Trump by adding Texas, Georgia, and possibly Iowa to the Democrat's win column. This is a dream scenario that would add up to 60 more EVs to the tally and possibly 4 more Senate seats!

 

But as 2016 and the final season of the West Wing taught us, focus on the W before you try to expand your reach and flip states Blue. Many will argue Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 race when she largely ignored the "Blue Wall" of the Midwest to expand her reach westward.

 

Alan Alda's Arnie Vinick of the West Wing suffered the same fate when he tried for a 50 state win, only to lose the election because he didn't deliver the Republican base. So while we must work to flip all these States Blue, we must focus on keeping Pennsylvania and Michigan in the fold first and foremost.

 

 

WORST CASE SCENARIO:

Each of the aforementioned scenarios has Biden prevailing in less than 33 days. But what if he loses? How does this happen? What does it look like?

 

One such option would be that the 2020 race falls just as the 2016 race did with everyone winning the same states as before.

 

Another option would have Biden win PA and MI, and lose all the rest resulting in Biden being roughly 2 EVs short.

 

Biden could also prevails in MI, WI, and AZ, but lose the rest and fall 1 EV short of the Presidency.

 

 

Oddly enough the election could even end in a tie if Biden were to win all of Maine (which has split electoral votes), PA, MI, but lose AZ, NZ, WI.

 

Even if Biden were to win PA, MI, and WI and flip no other states to his ledger, he would win by only 8 EVs. In this scenario the GOP could sue (especially if there's a late vote by mail surge to put Biden over the top) and/or could try to have States retract their electors and create another faithless elector situation in an attempt to deliver the Presidency to Trump.

 

Any of these scenarios could end up in front of the Supreme Court and/or perhaps Congress, invariably resulting in a constitutional crisis that would make the 2000 election pale in comparison.

 

For those that don't recall, the 2000 election ended in a laughable partisan Supreme Court ruling that was so politically motivated the Court had to limit its use as precedence to only Bush v. Gore - never to be cited again.

 

A 2020 constitutional crisis would be bad for all of us, especially for the fate of our democracy - one that we may not recover from.

 

 

TOP FIVE

 

If you haven't seen the Chris Rock film Top Five, you are missing out. What Democrats cannot afford to do is miss out on November 3rd. One of the big misses for Clinton in 2016 was ignoring WI, MI, and PA, in hopes of racking up a broader win, which resulted in a narrow defeat. So where are the top 5 places the Democrats should focus their efforts for the next month?

 

1 - Pennsylvania

2 - Michigan

3 - North Carolina

4 - Arizona

5 - Wisconsin

 

A Biden loss in PA could be a canary in the coal mine for the Democrats. Pennsylvania and its 20 EVs are critical. It would take 2 of the other States on the list to makeup for a PA loss.

 

A Michigan loss can essentially be replaced by North Carolina, but the Democrats cannot afford to lose the Peters' Senate seat that they are trying to defend in "Big Blue" country - especially given Governor Whitmer's rising popularity.

 

Meanwhile North Carolina is ready to break out - a triple threat win, with a possibility of adding State Legislature seats as well is all the incentive Democrats need to make NC a priority - the 15 EVs don't hurt either.

 

Then there is Arizona, the once proud Republican stronghold and home of Senator McCain, Senator Flake, and Sherriff Joe Apraio. The opportunity to expand the liberal CA footprint to its neighboring States, to take both Senate seats, and to pick up 11 more EVs makes Arizona more valuable to the Democrats than WI which carries 1 fewer EV and has no Senate seat up for grabs. Especially as the Blake & Rittenhouse matters make WI more polarized than ever.

 

 

X FACTOR

 

I have shortchanged Florida, Iowa, Texas, and Ohio (or FITO if you will) here. There's no doubt that each of these States are important. There's also no doubt that their Senate seats (Iowa &Texas) would help relieve Mitch McConnell from his Senate Majority Leader duties. But FITO has GOP Governors and tends to break right when push comes to shove. I look at FITO as the cherry on the sundae - a luxury, but not a necessity.

 

There is one X-Factor we should pay close attention to, however, in my opinion. One so important that I almost put it in my Top 5 over Wisconsin.

 

Yes, I have Georgia on my mind. Although Georgia has a GOP Governor (Trump ally Brian Kemp), it also has two Senate seats up for grabs. In one race Jon Ossoff is close on the heels of David Perdue. In the other, Kelly Loeffler is proving to be wildly unpopular, even within her own party and possibly losing to Raphael Warnock.

 

In both those races the Democrats have a shot. Georgia is also a toss-up right now when it comes to Biden v Trump, which makes Georgia a true battleground 50-50 state.

 

As home to Jimmy Carter, Stacey Abrams, and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Georgia has Blue ties, but has voted with the GOP over the past 17 years.

 

Just as a PA loss would suggest the Democrats are in for a bad night, a GA win, along with its 16 EVs, would suggest Operation Blue Tsunami is game-on!

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

If you've read any of my pieces before you know I am a nerd. With a Master's of Science in Information Systems, specializing in Data Warehousing and Data Mining, I could continue a data dig on the November election for days on end, but I think we all get the point, right?

 

If the 2020 election resembles 2016 we are due for a constitutional crisis. If current trends are to be believed, Biden looks to prevail with at least 304 EVs, winning PA, MI, WI, NC, and AZ on top of Clinton's 2016 haul. If Trump continues to implode, then GA, IA, OH, FL, and TX are in play as well and things can get real ugly.

 

We can also reasonably conclude that the Democrats are likely to reclaim control of the Senate, though the margin is still up for grabs.

 

While this all sounds well and good, we have learned one big lesson from 2016. Do not take the data for granted.

 

Every. Vote. Counts.

 

Vote!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please reload

Recent Posts

October 2, 2020

Please reload

©2017 by My Paragative.