Nate Silver runs the numbers on the big demographic shift in 2016: non-college educated white voters going to the GOP, college educated white voters, Latino, and Asian voters going to the Democrats. The results actually go a long way towards explaining recent poll numbers.
Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, perhaps by a lot. Republicans are still favored to hold the House. In other words, after all the madness, the balance of power in Washington post-2016 could look surprisingly similar to that after 2012. Yet beneath the surface, the tectonic plates of the American electorate are shifting.
By now, it's clear where the fault lines lie: The 2016 election is poised to be among the most polarized elections ever, not only along gender and generational lines, but especially along lines of race and educational attainment.
In August, Nate Cohn of The New York Times put it well when he wrote: “The simple way to think about Mr. Trump’s strength is in terms of education among white voters. He hopes to do much better than Mitt Romney did in 2012 among white voters without a degree so that he can make up the margin of Mr. Romney’s four-point defeat and overcome the additional losses he’s likely to absorb among well-educated voters and Hispanic voters.”
There’s evidence that Trump is underperforming Romney among Asians andAfrican-Americans, not just Latinos and college-educated whites. Clinton, on the other hand, has been underperforming President Obama among non-college-educated whites.
To get a handle on how these shifts could affect the electoral landscape, we modeled how many of Romney’s votes came from college-educated whites and minorities and how many of Obama’s votes came from non-college-educated whites in each state, county and congressional district. The difference between these two vote totals, shown in the map above, can tell us where Clinton and Trump have the most potential to build on 2012.
Then we went a step further: How would the 2016 map look if one out of every five whites without a college degree who voted for Obama in 2012 defected to Trump and if one out of every five non-whites and college-educated whites who voted for Romney in 2012 switched to Clinton? (Why one out of five? It’s a somewhat arbitrary number but represents a realistic shift of these groups, according to polls released over the past few months.)
Let's call this scenario the “2016 Vote Swap.” In it, Clinton would win the election, and her share of the two-party vote would be 52.7 percent — 0.7 percentage points higher than Obama’s 2012 showing. However, we also estimate she would win 10 fewer electoral votes than Obama did in the Electoral College.
The shift for Clinton among college-educated whites and non-whites would allow her to pick up North Carolina (15 electoral votes). But the shift among non-college-educated whites would cost her Ohio (18), Iowa (6) and Maine’s 2nd District (1). That's not far off from what polls and FiveThirtyEight’s forecast models show.
And if you look at the forecast for next month, they very much look like the model Nate describes above: Clinton wins the Obama 2012 map plus NC, minus Iowa and Ohio and Maine's 2nd.
Of course, that was before Trump imploded over the weekend, and indications are that we're looking at a total breakdown of that model, where Trump not only loses all the 2016 swing states but puts Georgia and Arizona in Clinton's column and maybe even Missouri, SC and Texas in play.
Democrats are moving swiftly to exploit Mr. Trump’s crumbling position in the presidential race, aiming to run up a big margin of victory for Mrs. Clinton and extend their political advantage into the congressional elections next month.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has concluded that at least two traditionally Republican states, Georgia and Arizona, are realistic targets for her campaign to win over. And Republican polling has found that Mr. Trump is at dire risk of losing Georgia, according to people briefed on the polls, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mrs. Clinton now holds such a strong upper hand that Priorities USA, a “super PAC” backing her campaign, may direct some of its war chest into Senate races, two people said, and may begin broadcasting ads for those contests as soon as next week. Congressional Democrats also hope to persuade Mrs. Clinton to continue pouring money and campaign resources into states like Virginia and Colorado, where they believe her victory is assured, in order to lift other Democratic candidates.
Hell, even Utah is up for grabs now.
Republican Donald Trump appears to have, in his earlier words, "a tremendous problem in Utah" as a new poll shows him slipping into a dead heat with Democrat Hillary Clinton since crude comments he made about women surfaced last weekend.
And along with the billionaire businessman's sudden fall, independent candidate and BYU graduate Evan McMullin surged into a statistical tie with the two major party presidential nominees, according to survey conducted Monday and Tuesday by Salt Lake City-based Y2 Analytics.
"A third-party candidate could win Utah as Utahns settle on one," said Quin Monson, Y2 Analytics founding partner.
McMullin may well have caught lightning in a bottle.
The poll shows Clinton and Trump tied at 26 percent, McMullin with 22 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson getting 14 percent if the election were held today. Y2 Analytics surveyed 500 likely Utah voters over landlines and cellphones Oct. 10-11 The poll has a plus or minus 4.4 percent margin of error.
If that's even close to true, things are about to get very interesting with 27 days left to go, and by "interesting" I mean a substantial Clinton victory.