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Wargaming the Electoral College

rcp-nov-2

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and found myself transported back in time to August 10.

The Electoral College map you see above is the latest poll-averaged result from RealClearPolitics, and it is an exact match for my "Trump Top-End Result" scenario from nearly three months ago. It's been a tumultuous twelve weeks, proceeding from "Too close to call" to "Trump has made enormous strides" to "Hillary can't be stopped" and right back again today to "Too close to call."

How does Trump get to 270 from 265?

Let's see if we can't find a path or two.

538-polls-plus

We can eliminate PA and WI right off the bat. Trump has led in exactly one PA poll -- and that was back in June. Even GOP Senator Pat Toomey looks to be in bad shape in his reelection bid, and PA's GOP statewide office-winners have done better than the GOP presidential nominee in every election since at least 1988. Toomey's apparent misfortune doesn't bode well for Trump there.

Marquette Law School just released its final poll of WI voters, and Clinton leads by six points. This was a huge poll of over 1,500 likely voters, conducted over six days on both sides of Friday's James Comey letter to Congress, and looks to be the final word before Wisconsin voters' final word.

If the rest of the map holds, and Trump wins NH and ME, that's the five votes he needs. We'll get results from those two New England states fairly early in the evening, and then it will be nail-biting time as we wait for NC, FL (both time zones!), OH, IA, and NV to come in. NV will be election night's real pucker test: RCP gives it to Trump, but as you see above, FiveThirtyEight's Poll-Plus model still gives Clinton a slight edge. And as you've also seen, Trump doesn't have NV's six votes to spare without picking up at least two other states. Unless that state is Michigan, which we'll get to on the next page.

mcmullin-factor

Last week we looked at MN, where Republican Stewart Mills is looking good in his effort to unseat Democrat Congresscritter Rick Nolan. That's because the North Star State's strongly Democratic Iron Range has turned into Trump Country. It would take a lot of Democrats voting Trump (or staying home) to overcome Clinton's six-point advantage, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility. MI looks like an even tougher nut to crack (Clinton +7), but either state would put Trump over.

Clinton has shown steady erosion here in CO, and we might still manage to surprise. Opposition to Prop 69 ("ColoradoCare" single payer) might drive enough conservatives to the polls to turn our purple mountains red. Or maybe its near-certain doom (you can barely even find any Democrats who support the thing) will create a "meh" attitude. Clinton's fate could come down to Colorado's plentiful libertarians, who have been attracted more to Democratic candidates in recent elections, but who are turned off by her support for the Iraq War, her still-smoldering Libyan incursion, and her hawkish attitude towards Russia over Syria.

But there's a chance the election returns won't matter anywhere west of the Mississippi River. If any one of OH, NC, or FL flips, then you can either go to bed early, or follow my lead and drink a fine single malt scotch while taking inventory of the ammo closet.

And if Utah flips for Evan McMullin while Trump scores NH or any other likely battleground -- then say goodbye to whatever civility is left in this country, and hello to House Speaker Paul Ryan playing ringmaster over a 50-ring circus to pick the next president.

One last item, perhaps of interest. PJ Media will feature... pretty much all of us, I think... in a multi-biped liveblog/drunkblog -- from the first worried reports of voter suppression in Anytown, until the last meaningful vote has been counted.

I hope you'll join us.

UPDATE: It isn't a huge sample and they have a spotty track record, but Hampton University has Trump up by three (with 15% still undecided!) in VA.

Stay tuned.