The Democratic Party’s uphill path to 270 electoral votes in 2016

It is far too early to do a formal forecast for 2016. The economic and political conditions in that year will be paramount. But given that at least some in the GOP appear pessimistic as of today, it’s worth asking: If economic and political conditions in 2016 were the same as they are today, what would happen? So assume that Obama’s approval rating is about 41 percent. Assume that GDP has grown 1.6 percent in the first two quarters of 2016. And, of course, no incumbent will be running.

Based on those assumptions, the model predicts that the Republican Party has a 64 percent chance of winning the presidency. That is far from 100 percent, of course. At the same time, it doesn’t suggest much cause for GOP pessimism in January 2014 — maybe even some Democratic pessimism, in fact.

What I’d tell strategists looking at state demographics and Electoral College math is this: In 2016, states will swing — almost in uniform fashion — depending on the underlying political and economic fundamentals. Battleground state demographic trends don’t insulate the Democratic Party from (potentially) a relatively unpopular president and (potentially) an economy that is growing but not very fast. Even analysts who believe these demographic trends portend a long-lasting Democratic majority would agree with that, I think.

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