Many liberals, such as myself, are starting to fear that loud-mouthed New York billionaire Donald Trump will become the next US President. But GOP standard-bearer Trump’s poll numbers are now falling dramatically, increasing his Democratic rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chances of taking the contest. Will Donald Trump win the US election?
Rise and fall
Trump has proved divisive since the start of his campaign, when he labelled Mexicans “rapists” and “murderers.” Fierce anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric has endeared the mogul to hard right voters, allowing Trump to clinch the Republican nomination in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Throughout GOP Primary season, Trump rose in national public opinion polls. Following the recently-held Republican Party Convention, he ascended even further. According to the Huffington Post’s amalgamation of polls, back in June 2015 Clinton was trouncing Trump in national opinion surveys, by 52% to 33.%. By July 2016, this gap had closed considerably, reaching 44% to 42%.
August has been a disastrous month for Trump, as a number of negative press stories and political blunders have considerably damaged the GOP candidate’s standing with the general public. The BBC reports that this week, the New York billionaire even re-shuffled his campaign team for the second time this election, suggesting that the wheels are starting to come off. Clinton is beginning to regain her strong lead in national opinion polls, beating Trump by 48% to 39% at present.
With Trump losing ground daily, could he still win the election? We need to turn to the ‘Electoral College’ system which who becomes the next US President to answer this question. In elections, each state is allotted a specific amount of ‘electors’ (based on population), who vote for the next President. Each state, no matter how small, receive a minimum of three electors. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, each state distributes electors to candidates on a ‘winner-takes-all’ basis.
It is important to note that, due to voting-records in previous election cycles, we know ahead of time how some states will go. This allows us to determine how many electors both Clinton and Trump will receive from states which have a strong history of voting for their Party in Presidential elections. According to 270 To Win, named for the number of electors needed to clinch the Presidency, Clinton will start with 190 electors, while Trump can count on the vote of 163 electors.
Determining swing states
So Clinton goes into this election with an in-built advantage over Trump. But this contest will be decided where all US Presidential elections are decided; the swing states. In this election these are likely to be Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.
270 To Win’s definition of a swing state is broad, based both on recent voting history and opinion polling. Certain states in this list have leaned increasingly Democratic or Republican in recent years. Wisconsin, for example, hasn’t voted for a Republican in Presidential elections since 1984. Even if polling in these states is currently close, they will probably go for the same party in 2016
Let’s look at the states in this list that have voted for the same party in the last six Presidential elections. Politifact writes that if we add these states to each candidate’s estimated electoral tally, Clinton starts out with a whopping, 246, so she only has to take a few extra states. This leaves Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.
Losing ground daily
Looking at these states, we see that Trump’s chances of becoming the next US President are decreasing by the day. In recent polls, The Washington Post reveals, Clinton is beating Trump by nine points in Florida and eight points in Virginia, two of the most closely fought traditional swing states (along with Ohio) in the past few elections.
Earlier figures have shown the former Secretary of State leading her rival by double digit margins in other swing states. It looks as though Hillary now even stands a chance of taking some traditionally Republican states. For example the candidates are neck-and-neck in Indiana, which has gone for the GOP in three of the last four contests, only voting for a Democrat in the 2008 election.
Anything can happen
So Donald Trump’s chances of winning this election are growing smaller by the second. But don’t count him out just yet. There are still a few months before the election and public opinion can change quickly, given the right circumstances. Also as we saw with the 2015 UK Parliamentary election, sometimes public polling gets it wrong. But with Trump showing no sign of toning down his controversial rhetoric, it is fairly unlikely he will be sitting in the Oval Office in January 2017.