Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clinton Winning the Popular Vote but Losing the Electoral College Could Happen

A friend alerted me to these polls of western states. I don't know the pollster but that doesn't mean they can't be accurate. My friend said that the Presidential numbers look like what you'd expect.

Not so fast. The one I want to focus on is California. Hillary Clinton leads by 27 points. This is generally on the high side, although Ipsos had her leading by 38 points. California will provide roughly 10% of all votes. So every point a candidate wins in California contributes 0.1 points to their margin. So the margin Hillary Clinton wins California by will greatly impact the final margin.

Right now 538 says that Clinton holds a 1.5 point lead over Trump. That's roughly 2.5 points less than Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney. Yet Barack Obama won California by 23 points. If Hillary Clinton is winning non-competitive California by 27 points, then Donald Trump is doing a lot better than Mitt Romney in a lot of other states. To get the margin down from 4 points to 1.5 points Trump could have a 6 point better margin in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Of course Trump could also be doing much better than Romney in non-competitive states. The problem there is that the state with the second most votes, Texas, also looks better for Clinton than Obama. I'm not predicting that Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote but lose the electoral college, but it does seem like a real possibility.

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