Could Donald Trump really win?
4 Nov 2016|

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mobilus In Mobili.

Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Since the FBI’s decision to reopen its investigation into the former Secretary of State’s handling of classified information on a private email server, Donald Trump has pulled even with the Democrat in some national polls. This has filled many people with despair and disbelief.

My advice: keep away from sharp objects.

Clinton is bleeding credibility as if from an open wound. What looked like a Democrat landslide when I wrote here last week is now a narrow victory that may get narrower over the next five days.

Polls show growing Democratic restlessness and burgeoning Republican enthusiasm. While many Republicans dislike Trump, they hold more negative views about Clinton. If they turn out to vote rather than stay at home, they might prevent a third consecutive Democratic term in the White House.

The email controversy mightn’t necessarily attract more voters to Trump, but it could dampen enthusiasm among the Democratic Left. Actor Susan Sarandon isn’t the only Democratic partisan to reject Hillary. Remember: a low-turnout election helps Trump.

And yet Clinton should still win the White House on Wednesday (Australian time). All the political logic one can muster suggests so. After all, she still seems to have enough states locked down to win the Electoral College vote of 270 out of 538. Although the national vote has tightened dramatically in the past week, the electoral arithmetic still favours the Democrats.

Remember in every presidential election since 1992, 18 states and the District of Columbia have gone for Democrats for a total of 242 electoral votes—only 28 shy of the required 270 to win the White House. By contrast, since 1992 only 13 states have voted ­Republican and they amount to only 102 electoral votes. So Hillary has many more paths to the 270 Electoral College.

That means Trump must secure all the states (and their 206 Electoral College votes) that Mitt Romney won in 2012, including North Carolina (which is a statistically a tie at the time of writing). He then needs to win several other battleground states that Obama won four years ago: Florida (29 Electoral College votes), Ohio (18 votes) and Iowa (6 votes) where the Republican holds narrow leads in the RealClearPolitics average.

But that’s only 259 electoral votes—11 shy of the 270 Trump needs to win. For victory, Trump must also win states such as Colorado (9 votes) and Nevada (6 votes), where he narrowly trails Clinton.

It’s true that Trump’s base of primarily angry white men is more motivated and enthusiastic than the Democratic Left, which remains suspicious of Hillary’s hawkish foreign policy views and her ties to Wall Street.

But bear in mind that Republicans were more energised about voting in 2012 than Democrats were, and President Obama still won by 126 Electoral College votes or 4% in the national vote.

How so? Because the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote machine was so able. That remains the case four years later.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have failed to embrace even minimal professionalism in campaign basics, such as staff, organisation, fundraising, digital voter outreach and policy development. As a result, the GOP has struggled to engage with and bring out voters both early and on Election Day.

So all the political logic and evidence indicate that Clinton should win on Wednesday afternoon. But this isn’t an ordinary election year. The fact that the political environment and electoral outlook has swung so dramatically in such a short period of time that anything could happen next week. If Trump defies the odds, again, his victory will go down as the greatest shock—and earthquake—in US political history.