Road to the White House, 2016: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio

By Alan J. Steinberg

10438519_10208309971894571_6898427630477217304_nI 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.


Posted: May 19th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Politics, Alan Steinberg, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “Road to the White House, 2016: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio”

  1. Bob English said at 9:36 am on May 19th, 2016:

    Alan’s piece is a good reminder that presidential elections are basically fought in just a few states aka “swing states”. Mostly agree except I would expect the Clinton campaign to target a couple of states that Romney won in 2012 especially if their polls showed they had a shot. Maybe North Carolina and one other.

    Part of the strategy also includes being able to make the opponent defend some of their must win states with time and resources. So for example polls showing NY or NJ to be close races would be bad news for HC and polls showing NC, GA or AZ to be close would be bad news for DT…..since both would have to spend extra time and $$ in those rather than the swing states.

    One example I had first hand experience with was in 2008. A couple of weeks prior to the election, PA became a must win state for McCain (if he was going to have any shot). Since Obama had 15-25 point leads in the polls in NJ, NY, CT, DE and MD, resources and volunteers were taken from those states and sent to PA to counter last minute efforts there by the McCain campaign. So the moral of the story is the more states you can lock down early, the more time and $$$ you can spend elsewhere.

    Of the three states that Alan mentioned, I’d agree with Ohio and Florida being very competitive. I think PA would be the biggest challenge for Trump….If he won there, that would be very bad news for HC.

  2. Glad to said at 11:09 am on May 20th, 2016:

    finally see Alan getting ever-so-reluctantly on board the Trump train!

  3. Alan Steinberg said at 7:18 pm on May 20th, 2016:

    Wrong, Glad to – I have endorsed Hillary Clinton. I have tried here to write a dispassionate analysis as to possible outcomes.

  4. That said at 8:43 pm on May 20th, 2016:

    is truly scary! See you at the polls!!