Will 2016 see a landslide in the POTUS election?

No.

Many many people, well intended, smart people, keep talking about the rout, the landslide, that will happen. They may be basing this on the new trend started by FiveThirtyEight and picked up by the New York Times and others of deriving a probability statement about the race. But when you see something like “87%” for Clinton in such an estimate, that does not mean that Clinton will get 87% of the votes. It means that it is very likely that Clinton will get 270 or more electoral votes. There is, for example, a zero chance that Clinton will get a single electoral electoral from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, either Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia or Indiana.

There are versions of this election where the Virgin Mary descends form heaven on a Unicorn and causes Trump to lose in Texas, Georgia, a few other states that he is not going to lose in, and then there are tossup states.

A great outcome for Clinton is winning all the tossups, including New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, etc. But there is no version of the election in which she wins even one of the 108 electoral votes found among the afore mentioned states.

Now, the total number of electoral votes that Trump can not possibly lose is just over 100. The total number of electoral votes that Clinton can’t possibly lose is just under 200 (including, I think, Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, DC). Either candidate losing any of those states involves the Virgin Mary on the Unicorn. If you make any map of any kind with those states in place, as specified, per candidate, then nether candidate can win by a true landslide.

And we know what a true landslide is because there have been many of them. A very conservative estimate of Trump’s electoral take would be about 147 votes. The lowest actual estimate I’ve seen is, I think, 153. Very few put him below the 170s, and these all assume that he’ll get more, but with many states left in limbo. In other words, Trump losing badly gives him something like 25% to 30% of the electoral votes.

There have been 56 elections.

10 elections have been won by 90% or more of the electoral vote. The were won by George Washington, James Monroe, FDR, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. The weakest of those was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and this is what his map looked like:

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-8-34-52-pm

28 of the elections were won by 70% or more. The weakest of those was Bill Clinton in 1996. This is what that year looked like:

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-8-36-27-pm

Hillary Clinton’s electoral map is going to look a lot more like Bill Clinton’s map, and that is not a rout.

There have been many landslides in recent years. Reagan and Nixon as mentioned (Reagan twice), Johnson and Roosevelt as mentioned. Even Wilson, 1912, with just over 80% of the electoral vote looks like a rout on the map:

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-8-39-18-pm

A major victory for Clinton will be taking all of the major swing states, and one or two of the formerly red states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, any Deep South state, Texas, or Utah. Any one of them. Plus the swing states (esp. Ohio and Florida, both, as well as Pennsylvania). That will feel like a rout, a landslide. But it won’t be.

13 Comments

  1. No.
    Many many people, well intended, smart people, keep talking about the rout, the landslide, that will happen. They may be basing this on the new trend started by FiveThirtyEight and picked up by the New York Times and others of deriving a probability statement about the race. But when you see something like “87%” for Clinton in such an estimate, that does not mean that Clinton will get 87% of the votes. It means that it is very likely that Clinton will get 270 or more electoral votes. There is, for example, a zero chance that Clinton will get a single electoral electoral from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, either Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia or Indiana.
    There are versions of this election where the Virgin Mary descends form heaven on a Unicorn and causes Trump to lose in Texas, Georgia, a few other states that he is not going to lose in, and then there are tossup states.
    A great outcome for Clinton is winning all the tossups, including New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, etc. But there is no version of the election in which she wins even one of the 108 electoral votes found among the afore mentioned states.
    Now, the total number of electoral votes that Trump can not possibly lose is just over 100. The total number of electoral votes that Clinton can’t possibly lose is just under 200 (including, I think, Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, DC). Either candidate losing any of those states involves the Virgin Mary on the Unicorn. If you make any map of any kind with those states in place, as specified, per candidate, then nether candidate can win by a true landslide.
    And we know what a true landslide is because there have been many of them. A very conservative estimate of Trump’s electoral take would be about 147 votes. The lowest actual estimate I’ve seen is, I think, 153. Very few put him below the 170s, and these all assume that he’ll get more, but with many states left in limbo. In other words, Trump losing badly gives him something like 25% to 30% of the electoral votes.
    There have been 56 elections.
    10 elections have been won by 90% or more of the electoral vote. The were won by George Washington, James Monroe, FDR, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. The weakest of those was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and this is what his map looked like:

    28 of the elections were won by 70% or more. The weakest of those was Bill Clinton in 1996. This is what that year looked like:

    Hillary Clinton’s electoral map is going to look a lot more like Bill Clinton’s map, and that is not a rout.
    There have been many landslides in recent years. Reagan and Nixon as mentioned (Reagan twice), Johnson and Roosevelt as mentioned. Even Wilson, 1912, with just over 80% of the electoral vote looks like a rout on the map:

    A major victory for Clinton will be taking all of the major swing states, and one or two of the formerly red states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, any Deep South state, Texas, or Utah. Any one of them. Plus the swing states (esp. Ohio and Florida, both, as well as Pennsylvania). That will feel like a rout, a landslide. But it won’t be.

    Related

  2. A really good rout would be running Trump & all of his deplorables out of the country.
    (Then Trump can build his wall to keep them from getting back in.)

  3. Christopher Winter

    I predicted 5 or 6 months ago that Trump would win by 10 points in both the electoral and popular votes.
    I’m sticking with it.
    But I’m not an expert talking head on TV.

  4. Alaska and Hawaii are properly greyed out in the 1912 map, since they were not states at that time. Indeed, that was the year the U.S. became “the 48 states” with the addition of Arizona.
    But was it true then that 270 electoral votes was still the threshold for victory?

  5. No. The threshold is >50% of the Electoral College votes, which total the sum of the Senators and the members of the House, plus 3 votes for the District of Columbia (a number equal to the votes of the smallest state). Hence, there were fewer than 538 votes in 1912, and less than 270 were needed at that time.
    Interestingly, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment allows for a state’s representation in the House of Representatives to be reduced if that state unconstitutionally denies people the right to vote. The reduction is in keeping with the proportion of people denied a vote. This amendment refers to voting “at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States.”
    Which suggests that several “red states” could/should have their electoral votes reduced, as they are guilty of “state sponsored voter suppression”.

  6. Hmmm….

  7. plus 3 votes for the District of Columbia (a number equal to the votes of the smallest state)
    DC has not always been allowed to vote in Presidential elections–that change came sometime in the latter half of the 20th century (I don’t recall exactly when that happened). If you look at that 1912 map, you will see that there is no box representing DC.
    The maps are presumably from the 270 To Win website (thus their logo in the images), but 270 EVs have been needed only since 1964 (the map shows that DC had electors by then). The House of Representatives was fixed at 435 members in the early 20th century, but Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states, so there would have been only 96 senators, for a total of 531 electoral votes before DC was granted their EVs. The 1960 election would have had at least two extra EVs because Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959, but since there had not yet been a census to reapportion the House their Congressmen would have been given temporary additional seats.

  8. Slightly different question(s) I’d love to see answered – will Clinton’s win – assuming she does win which is NOT yet a certainty – be enough to :
    1) Satisfy the Trump faction that they genuinely lost and it wasn’t “rigged” (I’m guessing this is almost certainly a no?)
    2) Convince Democrats , Independents and others that she won convincingly enough to get a mandate to actually get stuff done?
    3) Can the Democratic party win the Senate and House and enough things to be effective and to show a convincing enough political-social-cultural rejection of the metaphorical toxic sludge that is the renewed quasi(?)fascism that Trump represents?

  9. Here’s how the rigged election is going to turn out:http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2016/10/31/the-electoral-college-map-one-week-out-clinton-victory-likely-but-not-assured/
    SteveR: 1) No; 2) See post, depends; 3) popcorn.

  10. @ ^ Thanks. Just seen that. Afraid at the moment its more a case of fingernails than popcorn.
    These Trumpkins :
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-31/trumpkin-trend-lights-up-halloween/7981484
    May be cute but the thought of the actual klown in the White House is seriously scary. Also emphasis on the serious part, sadly.

  11. [email protected]: Last night one of the trick-or-treaters who visited my house (my town does trick-or-treat night on the 30th rather than the 31st) was dressed as Donald Trump: ill-fitting suit, red tie, and a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. That was a scary costume, all right, and much too close to reality.
    And I wonder, as Opus did in this 1984 Bloom County strip: “Who put Election Day so close to Halloween?”

  12. A little bird tells me that deceitful anti-Clinton commercials are now running in Missouri. On the one hand, it does seem like the gap is narrowing, not spreading, meaning Clinton will be lucky to win the usual blue-leaning tossup states. On the other hand, if der Drumpfenfuhrer was really sure there was a zero percent chance he would lose Missouri, why would he or his minions waste money advertising there.

  13. Trump has a long (business) history of wasting money on loser investments and poor judgments.
    The leopard cannot change his spots.

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