What a difference a month, a videotaped admission of being a sex criminal, and the total dissolution of the Republican Party makes!
As always, I have prepared the most accurate up-to-date forecast without waiting for the polls (a.k.a., a mother’s skirt for nervous forecasters to hide behind) to catch up to me. That’s because my predictions don’t come from numbers — they come straight from the gut wisdom of a 30-year veteran of insider politics on a steady diet of race science. Without further ado, here is where the election stands today:
Now that early voting has begun in several states and undecideds are coming off the fence, my model is looking forward to where the states will fall on Election Day. If the fundamentals remain unchanged, a “Lock” indicates one candidate will certainly win. An “Edge” means one candidate is on track to win, but the margin is close enough that late-deciders can change the outcome. A “Tossup” could go either way. Note that my final map will predict the Lock for all 538 electoral votes.
Let’s focus in on some key races:
NEW HAMPSHIRE: CLINTON LOCK
Hillary is a lock for 272 electoral votes, just enough to win, and little New Hampshire’s 4 votes put her over the finish line. Trump, who won the New Hampshire primary back in February by a blowout margin, has been competitive all year in this perennial swing state. What doomed his chances? One word: wikiLeaks.
New Hampshire Libertarians are famously obsessed with privacy, going so far as to record hourlong YouTube videos of themselves screaming “AM I BEING DETAINED” at meter maids taking down license plate numbers. When Hillary’s campaign chairman John Podesta was doxxed by WikiLeaks on the orders of totalitarian dictator Vladimir Putin, it was too much to bear for these Live Free or Die privacy advocates. There just aren’t enough backwoods moonshiners left in these parts for Trump to catch up with the wave of sympathy votes for Clinton.
TEXAS: TRUMP EDGE
Trump is starting to see trouble in ruby red Texas, where both his comments about sexually harassing women and his actions of sexually harassing women are not playing well with either the country club Republicans in places like Sugarland or the shoeless fundamentalist Christians in places like Abilene. Suburban women are abandoning the ticket, and the Republican men who have daughters and wives are starting to have second thoughts (Republicans who are single or have only sons are still holding the line). Trump has never been particularly strong in Texas, no doubt due to his yearlong harassment of beloved Bush family cutup Jeb and his wife. Of course Hillary isn’t popular in the Lone Star State either. My sense is Texas’ Jim Crow-style disenfranchisement of 3 million black and Latino voters will be enough to pull Trump across the finish line. But for a Republican nominee to rely on structural racism this late in the game is a bad sign for the GOP.
UTAH: MCMULLIN EDGE
There’s a new name on the Dig’s Electoral Scorecard: Evan McMullin, the robust ex-CIA #NeverTrump candidate I profiled back in August. McMullin has certainly been the butt of some Twitter snark these past two months, what with his campaign listing a random guy as their Vice Presidential candidate and Evan only making the ballot in 11 of our worst states. But no one is laughing at #NeverTrumpers like Bill Kristol and the Billiards Fool now that Trump’s campaign is imploding and McMullin is on track to win Utah’s 6 electoral votes. You see, while most Republicans can write off Trump’s vile remarks as “banter” or “horseplay” or “stuff we all engage in, right?” Mormons are a different breed of conservative. These are folks who live exclusively for working hard, abstaining from tea and coffee, and shaking their head at cuss words on TV. The mere thought of even consensual sex repulses them. As much as they hate Hillary, they refuse to vote for Trump. Their votes may have gone to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, but his pro-marijuana stance and campaign schedule of holding a hunger strike outside the Commission for Presidential Debates aren’t going to win him many votes. The real opportunity here is for McMullin, a Mormon who is actually holding campaign events in Utah.
If Hillary weren’t already a lock to win a majority of electoral votes, one scintillating scenario is that the electoral college would deadlock, causing the House to throw the election to McMullin, whose CIA connections will have given him more than enough information about the sexual proclivities of every Congressman to force their hand. In the 50-50 Senate, however, McMullin’s failure to pick a Vice Presidential candidate combined with divisive partisanship would result in an ugly deadlock between Republicans and Democrats until one brave man, perhaps a mustachioed 30-year journalist of some sort, strode onto the Senate floor to throw his hat in the ring with a stirring West Wing-esque speech using logic to prove that bipartisanship and working-togetherness are the correct way, a stemwinder that causes the two partisan instigators to slink away, their point having been disproven by their own logic, and moves the remaining Senators to tears, causing them to unanimously select this brave alpha male as their new Veep. But, Hillary is on track to win decisively, so I haven’t given the scenario much thought.
WISCONSIN, MICHIGAN, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA: CLINTON LOCK
There’s no drama left in these four. Voters in the Rust Belt and the Beltway have been permanently turned off to Trump after he viciously attacked the universally-beloved Paul Ryan, whose brave efforts to slash Social Security have won the hearts of everyone from Racine to Roanoke. While the defense lobbyists of Northern Virginia know Ryan as a friend and neighbor, the lunchpail 9-to-5 factory workers of Michigan and Pennsylvania see the Speaker punch in early and punch out late every day and think, “this guy works way harder than me, and for something more important than making cars or baking coal or whatever: he’s doing it to privatize roads to pay for the charter schools we want!”
FLORIDA, OHIO, IOWA, NEVADA: CLINTON EDGE
Mid-September will be remembered as Trump’s high water mark, where he narrowly led in all four of these key swing states. But with his campaign collapsing all across the map, this basket of electoral votes is nearly out of reach of his tiny hands. And don’t expect racially-motivated voter disenfranchisement to bail him out here like in Texas. Although Florida Governor Rick Scott tried his best to cut off voter registration during the deadly Hurricane Matthew, a judge rejected his excuse of “for, you know, reasons” and extended the deadline. Sorry, Governor, but when it comes to restricting the voting rights of minorities, there are no points for trying.
The Old People State has been trending away from Trump since he lost the pivotal endorsement of John McCain. Arizona has been in play all year for two reasons: Trump’s signature policy of ethnically cleansing the Southwest has alienated the state’s growing Latino population, and Trump’s vulgar remark that he “likes people who weren’t captured” about McCain’s POW status hasn’t played well in a state where 10% of voters also crashed several of their dad’s planes in Vietnam. A state whose biggest county has given its seal of approval to Joe Arpaio and his torture camps over and over again is still fertile Trump territory, but Hillary has the wind at her sails.
Of course, there are some caveats. As he goes down in flames, Trump might barnstorm solid red states to insult flyover voters to their faces, calling their precious monuments like the Corn Palace and Dollyworld “a disgrace.” And Hillary Clinton might die of pneumonia. Either one might throw safe states into question. So stay tuned. As they say, a month is a lifetime in politics, and the Dig lives for politics!
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years and is the host of the Digcast, a weekly podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet @carl_diggler.