2016 Electoral Predictions

With just about a week to go before election day, the race seems to be tightening in some ways. While we still don’t know what the effects of the FBI’s announcement that they have reopened the Clinton email investigation, I feel relatively confident to share my electoral predictions one week out along with an explanation. Within the next week, I will also share some insight into a pool of maps I have collected from a variety of politically savvy friends.

My 2016 Electoral Predictions 10/31/16

Out of the group thus far, I have predicted the largest Clinton electoral victory, giving Clinton 341 votes compared to Trump’s 197. I derived this prediction from using a mix of my polling analysis and a bit of instinct. I’d like to discuss some of my picks in regards to individual swing states.

Iowa was the only real swing state that I have favoring Donald Trump. I chose Iowa as a Trump state because Iowa is particularly sympathetic to the Trump cause of anti-free trade and protectionism and Trump’s attacks on Clinton in regards to her (former) support for NAFTA and TPP are especially relevant to voters in Iowa who feel a particular animosity towards free trade agreements. Additionally, Trump’s rural and surprising evangelical appeal should work to his benefit in Iowa and carry him over the edge. In the Iowa Caucus’ Trump finished just about 6,000 votes behind Cruz, and I believe this stronger than expected finish will work to his benefit on election day.

Earlier in this race, Trump seemed primed to win Ohio, and up until recently, I felt that he would carry the state for much of the same reasons I predict he will take Iowa. However, in the last few weeks, I believe the surfacing of Trump’s vulgar bus video will hurt him too much with suburban women, a group he desperately needed to show for him to have a chance. In addition to this, I believe that early voting in Ohio has the potential to create a buffer for Clinton that will protect her from lost potential support due to the FBI investigation.

For many of these same reasons, I find it evident that Clinton will also carry Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. Trump’s issues with women will lead to either more support for Clinton or will cause Republican women to stay home on election day. In Nevada and Florida, Clinton’s strength among minority voters — who I suspect will turn out in large numbers to support her — will carry those states for Clinton. Early voting numbers will only make matters worse for Trump.

The Northeast, including Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania seem like safe states for Clinton given my Ohio predictions. Ohio and Pennsylvania are likely to go the same way, as they are both part of the “rust belt” that Trump is attempting to appeal to using his protectionist message. If he ends up being successful with this strategy in Pennsylvania, then he will likely succeed in Ohio as well. Trump’s problems with women and minorities apply equally to both of these states as they both have significant urban votes that will run up the tally for Clinton.

In Utah, a surprisingly close contest is emerging as McMullen, the conservative independent, is gaining ground; it would not be all the surprising to see him carry the state, though I suppose that on election day when Utah voters head to the polls, they will cast their votes for Trump. They will view the prospect of Clinton winning, and thus choosing the fate of the Supreme Court to be too high a risk.

Some factors could potentially alter this outcome, and I foresee two in particular: a hidden Trump vote and/or a significant impact of the FBI investigation on Clinton. The idea of a secret Trump vote is a real possibility. This theory says that there is a slight polling bias, in which certain people will not identify themselves as Trump supporters out of embarrassment. I feel that this argument may hold some merit and perhaps could be the difference in some of these close swing states, but I feel the margins will not be close enough for this “hidden” vote to make a difference. The other uncertainty, which will become more apparent in the next week as new polls come out, is whether the FBI’s relaunch of the Clinton investigation will hurt Hillary’s numbers. For the most part, I assume that people who are already with Hillary will not be turned off by this latest controversy, but the question is, will independents? Aside from these two, another October, or now November surprise could cause the race to change entirely.