By Alan J. Steinberg
I have had a rather poor prediction record in this year’s presidential primaries, as I vastly underrated Donald Trump’s appeal. I remain intrepid, however, so the following is my initial Electoral College 2016 projection.
In order to be elected president, a candidate must win states giving him or her a total of at least 270 electoral votes. I believe that Donald Trump will carry all the states won by Mitt Romney in 2012, giving him a base of 206 electoral votes.
I classify seven of the states won by Barack Obama in 2012 as swing states in 2016. These states are the three double digit electoral vote states of Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), and Pennsylvania (20), and the four single digit electoral vote states of New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), and Nevada (6), for a total of 92 electoral votes. Hillary Clinton is likely to carry all the other states won by Obama in 2012, giving her a base of 240 electoral votes.
The major surprise in my swing state projection: I have classified Virginia as a likely Clinton state, due to the growth of its Latino electorate and the executive order of Governor Terry McAuliffe restoring the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time.
By contrast, this is the first time in over a decade where I have classified Pennsylvania as a swing state. The following article from the Nate Silver fivethirtyeight website provides the most cogent reasons for the swing state classification of the Keystone State in 2016:
The key focus of Election Night will be the double digit electoral vote swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Five scenarios are possible, given my above projections.
If Donald Trump carries Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, he wins the election.
If Hillary Clinton carries Florida, she is guaranteed 269 electoral votes and will be elected president if she carries one other swing state.
If Hillary Clinton loses Florida but carries both Ohio and Pennsylvania, she is elected president.
If Hillary Clinton loses Florida and Ohio but carries Pennsylvania, she will be elected president if she carries two of the four single digit swing states.
If Hillary Clinton loses Florida and Pennsylvania but wins Ohio, she will need to carry a combination of single digit swing states containing at least 12 electoral votes. Otherwise, Donald Trump will win the election.
Based on these projections, one thing is clear. For Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the road to the White House in 2016 runs through Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.