Trump is very likely to lose

With just over two weeks until the US election, recent opinion polls indicate Hillary Clinton maintains a big lead in the Electoral College.

She leads in states worth 334 Electoral Votes (EVs), while Donald Trump leads in states worth 204 EVs.  However, since last week, Ohio (18 EVs) has flipped from a Clinton to a Trump lead.  Above is this week’s Electoral College map from ElectoralVote.

Clinton leads by five points or more in states worth 273 EVs (light and dark blue states), up from 256 last week, so she now has over a majority (270 EVs) in these states alone.  Clinton leads by over 10 points in states worth 202 EVs (dark blue states alone).  Trump leads by five points or more in states worth 117 EVs, up from 116 last week (light and dark red states).

A poll this week had conservative Independent Evan McMullin leading both Trump and Clinton in Utah (6 EVs).  Utah is overwhelmingly Mormon, and Mitt Romney, a Mormon, crushed Barack Obama 73-25 in 2012.  However, Mormons despise Trump, as they do not think he has good family values, and his anti-immigrant rhetoric does not appeal.  At the Utah Republican caucus, Ted Cruz won 69% of the vote, with Trump on only 14%, third behind John Kasich. (ElectoralVote has not yet changed its map to reflect McMullin’s strength in that state.)

While Clinton is easily winning overall, she is struggling in two states Obama won against Romney: Iowa (6 EVs) and Ohio (18 EVs).  The New York Times has an article with a table showing demographics of the various close 2012 states.  Non-university educated whites, which are Trump’s strongest demographic, represent 62% of voters in Iowa, and 53% in Ohio. However, this is not the only explanation for Clinton’s struggles in these states, as she is easily winning other states which have over 50% in non-university educated whites.

The Huffington Post Pollster national aggregate has Clinton leading with 44.7%, followed by Trump at 38.6%, Libertarian Gary Johnson at 6.4%, 6.6% undecided, and 3.6% for Others including Green Jill Stein.  Last week, Clinton led by 44.8-38.8.

By the middle of last week, there were many polls showing Clinton’s lead in the high single digits to low double digits.  However, there has been little polling since the final Presidential debate.  The two most recent polls in the Pollster database show Trump slightly ahead, but these polls are very probably pro-Trump outliers.  Not only are they at odds with many other national polls, but also with state polls that clearly show that Clinton is well ahead nationally.

Pollster charts give Trump a 62% unfavourable, 34% favourable rating (63-34 last week), and Clinton a 53% unfavourable, 43% favourable rating (54-44 last week).  (President Obama has a steady 51% approve, 46% disapprove job performance rating.)

The final Presidential debate was held last Thursday Australian time, and post-debate polls have shown another clear win for Clinton, giving her a clean sweep of all three Presidential debates.  This was Trump’s last chance to impress voters outside his base, but he failed again.  It is now likely that Clinton will easily win.  The two plausible ways she could be derailed are: a major new scandal, which Wikileaks is trying to create; and/or a large opinion polling error.

During the debate, Trump suggested that he might not accept the election result, and the next day he only committed to accepting the results “if I win”.   Many on the US right follow extreme right wing conspiracy websites and intensely distrust the mainstream media.  Trump’s rhetoric will appeal to his base, but is unlikely to help him with uncommitted voters.  In addition, if his people think Clinton will win regardless of actual votes, they may not turn out.

In my opinion, Clinton’s lead is likely to increase, as undecided and soft third party voters make up their minds.  Trump has a strong appeal to his base, which appears to be a little under 40% of the electorate, but he has done almost nothing to broaden his appeal beyond that base.

Congressional elections

In last week’s article, I wrote that the Senate has 100 members, and is currently controlled by the Republicans by a 54-46 majority.  34 seats are up for election this year, with the Republicans defending 24 and the Democrats 10.  That gives the Democrats a clear opportunity to gain the five seats needed to control the Senate.  A 50-50 Senate tie will be broken by the Vice President.  Here is this week’s Senate map from ElectoralVote; grey states denote states with no Senate contest this year.

Senate map ElectoralVote

Including seats already held, the Democrats now lead in 50 seats, up from 49 last week, and the Republicans lead in 48 seats, down from 49, with two states tied (North Carolina and Missouri).  Polls that have not appeared on ElectoralVote give the Republican candidate a large lead in Florida, so it should not be tied.  One of the Democrats’ leads is within four points, as is one Republican lead.

Since last week, Wisconsin has moved from tied to a Democrat lead, and Missouri from a Republican lead to tied.

The House has 435 seats, which are all up for election every two years.  The Republicans currently have a 247-188 majority, so the Democrats need to gain a net 30 seats to control the House.  Owing to gerrymandering, they need to win the House popular vote by a large margin to win the House.

The Pollster national House ballot has Democrats leading Republicans by 46.5-40.7, with 11.0% undecided.  Last week the Democrats led by 46.3-40.7.  A six point win for the Democrats could be enough to give their House leader, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker’s gavel that she lost following the disastrous 2010 midterm elections.

The US election will be held on Tuesday 8 November.  Owing to time differences, the results will come in on Wednesday 9 November in Australia, with the first meaningful results from 11am Australian Eastern Daylight Time.


Dr Adrian Beaumont

Election Watch polls analyst


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