Gotta find a way to pass the time while we wait for the early exit polls, which of course were garbage in 2004 and misled the country about the eventual outcome of the election.

I’m going to wimp out with a contrarian yet not too contrarian map. Clinton 279, Trump 259:

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That’s not based on any fine-grained analysis, just an attempt to reconcile three hunches: (1) When literally every respected model expects Clinton to win, she’s probably going to win, (2) Hillary is too lame and damaged a candidate to win in a landslide, even against an opponent as disliked as Trump, and (3) this miserable election we’ve been suffering through since the dawn of time simply must go on for as long as possible, which means a close race late into the night or even ongoing this week. (There’s a fourth hunch, actually. After underestimating Trump in the primaries, don’t make the same mistake again.) In fairness, though, even the many data nerds who have her winning 322/216 aren’t really predicting a landslide. The difference between their maps and mine (apart from ME-2 turning red) is Florida and North Carolina, and everyone understands that those outcomes will be tight. What separates a Clinton romp from a Clinton nailbiter could be as little as a few thousand votes in each state. Read this post for a look at the tea leaves in FL and NC after early voting. I’m gambling a bit on Florida, but the fact that white turnout there is way up so far this year makes me think it’s a decent bet notwithstanding the big surge in Latino voters.

In fact, the deeper contrarianism of this map is that it assumes the already congealing media narrative about Latino voters turning out en masse to stop Trump while he piles up white votes is wrong — sort of. If that read on the election is right, you’d expect Clinton to win Latino-heavy states like Florida, Nevada, and maybe even Arizona while Trump gives her a scare in the white-dominated states of the Rust Belt. This map turns that upside down. Notwithstanding Latino gains in FL/NV/AZ, I think Trump wins two of them. (I’m going to trust Jon Ralston that the early vote in Nevada has put that state more or less out of reach.) And I think Clinton’s Rust Belt firewall and northeastern strongholds, i.e. New Hampshire, will hold, thanks mainly to defections among white college grads from the GOP. If I’m right then Colorado won’t be decisive; it could flip here and Clinton would still win by a razor-thin 270/268 margin. Although then ME-2 would come into play. If Trump were to win that district’s single electoral vote as well, then, er…

One other quirk of this map: It makes Evan McMullin’s threat to Trump in Utah potentially important. If Trump were to flip Michigan but lose Utah to McMullin, he’d be at 269 with Clinton at 263. The House would have to decide, although it seems like a fait accompli that House Republicans would elect Trump president if he finished one vote shy of clinching a victory and ahead of Clinton. A more interesting outcome would be if, instead of Michigan, Trump flipped Wisconsin while McMullin stole Utah. That would leave Clinton with 269, Trump with 263, and McMullin with six. What does the House do then? They elect Trump anyway, I assume, but if you thought the country under President Trump was destined to be wracked with partisan bitterness, imagine him being handed the White House after finishing second in electoral votes and the popular vote. Not likely, but possible.

Anyway. Make sure you have fresh coffee brewed tonight in case I’m right about Florida and North Carolina, because then we’re gonna be up late, late, late. And make sure you have a Netflix or Hulu subscription in case I’m wrong, because then things are going to get boring after 9 p.m. or so. Here’s something fun to get you warmed up for the big show.