With under two weeks until voters finally get this interminable 2016 presidential over with, the latest Crystal Ball Electoral College map from Larry Sabato reflects Republican Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers and predicts a loss for Trump that will be worse than the drubbing Mitt Romney suffered in 2012 (and possibly as bad as the slaughter John McCain suffered in 2008).
Sabato, a widely respected political science professor and head of University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, forecasts that Democrat Hillary Clinton will win 352 electoral votes to Trump’s 173.
“We have 352 electoral votes — 82 more than the 270 required — at least leaning to Hillary Clinton, 173 at least leaning to Donald Trump, and 13 electoral votes worth of Toss-ups: Iowa, Utah, and the single electoral vote in Maine’s Second Congressional District,” Sabato explains.
The Electoral College situation has gotten slightly worse for Trump in recent weeks, the professor believes.
“Donald Trump is not making up much — if any — ground on Hillary Clinton,” he says.
In August, Sabato was predicting that Clinton will win 347 electoral votes to Trump’s 191 (with zero toss-up states).Since then, his basic prediction has remained the same. Confidence levels have changed for some states. Arizona, for example, has gone from “leans Republican” to “leans Democrat.” Texas has gone from “safe Republican” to “likely Republican.”
This week in particular, the political science professor and his colleagues are “strengthening the map for Clinton by pushing two Leans Democratic states — New Hampshire, and Wisconsin — to Likely Democratic.”
“While New Hampshire and Wisconsin are, on paper, states where Trump should be very competitive — both states are much whiter than the national average — Trump has not led a single poll in either state,” Sabato notes.
“The Clinton campaign has always appeared very confident in Wisconsin,” he adds. “The candidate herself has not even visited the state during the general election period, a sign that the campaign does not feel vulnerable there.”
There are dim glimmers of hope for Trump. Sabato has shifted Iowa from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up” since August, for instance. New Mexico now “leans Democrat” whereas previously it was “safe Democrat.”
The political science professor notes that his Crystal Ball focuses less on day-to-day polls and more on long-term demographic trends.
“Polarization in this hyper-partisan era means that practically nine of 10 voters are committed, and the unknown is whether they can be motivated to cast a ballot,” Sabato observed back in August. “Presidential job approval, the state of the economy, war and peace, and a few other items reinforce partisanship and turnout, and influence the few truly swingable votes among hard independents.”