Donald Trump’s road to the White House is uncertain. Democratic efforts to cast him as a lecherous sexual predator continue to be bolstered by Trump’s own actions. And Clinton, despite the daily barrage of incriminating email leaks, is gaining ground.
So what do the polls say? What if the election were to be this week, instead of a month away–what would the reasonable expectations be for a Donald Trump victory? The odds are not in Trumps favor.
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A quick note about the way the election process works. As the Bush/Gore race of 2000 showed us, candidates are not elected by the popular vote. The popular vote is used, state-by-state, to elect representatives to the Electoral College. And these representatives cast ballots for the actual election.
There are 538 members of the Electoral College (one for each of the 100 senators, and one for each member of the House of Representatives). Each state gets 3 votes to begin. That puts them all on a somewhat equal footing. Then the remaining votes are split up based on population.
48 of the 50 states give all of their Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in that state. The other two split them proportionally. The electors that states select are not legally bound to cast ballots that reflect the votes of their constituents, they almost always do.
That said, political pundits frequently get giddy when talking about how this year isn’t like anything they’ve ever seen before. And electors have gone against the wishes they were sworn to enact 87 times since the inception of the Electoral College.
RealClearPolitics gathers polling data from numerous agencies engaged in the political prediction game and process that data for what many believe is the most accurate indicator of what will transpire on November 8th. This is their map, as of today. Clinton is well on her way to the 270 votes needed to win.
What would it look like if you took out the toss-ups and pushed each state the way it was leaning? The results still aren’t enough for Trump.
Based on these numbers Clinton has 322 electoral votes and Trump 216 — an huge improvement for Clinton since late September.
So what do the oddsmakers say? Well Vegas and offshore betting companies have Clinton with a 80-87% chance to win. One bookmaker in Ireland has already called the election and is paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who bet on Hillary Clinton. However, if you’re one of the people who believes the polls are off for this election, and a Donald win is all but certain, then you could clean up by placing a bet on The Donald. Most books are paying out several times over on a Donald win (if they’re still taking bets, many are not).
These are just polls, however. And there’s a lot of October left for even nastier surprises. Still, most of the credible polls in the last two decades have run a margin of error of 2 percentage points. If our recent history is any indication, things look grim for Trump.