A leftover from yesterday via the Examiner. Skip to 6:00 of the clip below for the key bit, and ignore the fact that of course Conway is obliged to say this with her guy still down big in PA even in the latest polls. Is it true? Can Trump whiff on Pennsylvania like so many Republicans before him and still sneak through to 270 electoral votes?
Here’s the best I can do for him, using RCP’s “create your own map” feature. Give Trump all of Romney’s 2012 states, which amounts to 206 electoral votes — even though Clinton’s (very slightly) ahead in North Carolina right now and is threatening in Arizona and Georgia. Let’s also give Trump Ohio and Florida for the simple reason that he absolutely needs both if Clinton takes Pennsylvania. He can, in theory, lose any one of those three and still claw his way to 270. Losing two is a fatality. Anyway, do all of that and you’re at 253 Republican EVs, just 17 from glory. Clinton, however, realistically has 249 in the bag assuming that she holds on in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where she leads comfortably at last check. What’s left on the board? Behold:
Just four states — Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Virginia, plus a single electoral vote in Maine’s second district. The good news for Trump is that he’s been competitive in Nevada and Iowa throughout the summer. If any true toss-up states are liable to break his way, they are. The bad news is that they’re both small states with few electoral votes between them. Adding both to his column plus Maine’s second brings you to … 266 electoral votes, tantalizingly close to victory but still short. He has to have either Wisconsin (10 EVs) or Virginia (13) on top of Nevada and Iowa. Both of those states are within a few points in the very latest polls after having looked like pushovers for Clinton a month ago. She led Trump by an average of 13 points in Virginia in August; the most recent head-to-head polls of the state, though, have her up just 1-2 points. Wisconsin has seen the same trend. After a double-digit lead a few weeks ago, the last few polls have shrunk Clinton’s head-to-head lead to just five points on average. Without those two states back on the board, Trump would be a dead duck. It’d be Pennsylvania or bust for his chances. For the moment, it isn’t.
The question is whether they’ll stay on the board. Obama won both states twice. Virginia was tight in 2012, with the margin of victory just four points, but he beat McCain easily there in 2008 and won Wisconsin handily in both elections. Wisconsin has been chilly to Trump all year too, having handed Ted Cruz his biggest win of the primaries in early April. If Trump pulls an upset there, I’d assume that he’s doing so well nationally that he doesn’t need Wisconsin. He’ll pull an even bigger upset somewhere else, possibly in Pennsylvania, that’ll make Wisconsin irrelevant. Virginia is more intriguing, though. Trump did win that primary, although he had trouble in polls there earlier this summer overcoming the bloc of college-educated suburban voters who tend to dislike him. If Pennsylvania’s not coming through for him, then Virginia suddenly becomes an absolute must-win battleground. If Conway’s serious about a path that doesn’t include, that’s where the path eventually leads.