Projection: Clinton rises to 348 electoral votes, Trump drops to 190

By the way, we’re lowering Kansas and South Carolina from Safe Republican to Likely Republican after recent closer-than-expected surveys surfaced. In the former, the latest statewide poll from SurveyUSA had Trump ahead by just five points, 44%-39%, and notably it showed Clinton ahead 45%-35% in the Kansas City region. Echoing that finding, an internal survey for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R, KS-3) showed Clinton up 44%-38% over Trump in a district that is mostly in the Kansas City area. In addition, KS-3 was a 54%-44% Mitt Romney district in 2012, further confirming our views of NE-2, which voted for Romney by 53%-46%. Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey found Trump up only 41%-39% in South Carolina, and it is a state with a high Democratic floor (but a low ceiling) because of a large black population and the Palmetto State’s racially polarized voting. We certainly don’t expect either Kansas or South Carolina to vote Democratic. Still, we have noticed that many deep red states may be preparing to produce lower-than-usual pluralities for Trump. It won’t matter in the Electoral College, of course, but it will be reflected in the national popular vote total.

Let’s suppose Trump gains steam in the fall, maybe after some entertaining or overpowering debate performances. (This is a hypothetical, not a prediction.) Where could he grab states currently in our Democratic column? Three big states that are perfectly capable of voting Republican stand out: Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. To this let’s add Iowa. So far Trump is faring better in the Hawkeye State than in other competitive swing states. It’s not difficult to see why. Almost half of Iowa’s electorate will likely consist of non-college whites, while minority voters will probably comprise less than 10%. Clinton has never been a favorite at Iowa’s caucus time, though she secured a paper-thin victory in February 2016 after a third-place finish in 2008. Democrats will have to work hard to gain these six EVs in November.

Returning to ground level, however, suppose Trump wins all the Romney states (206 EVs, which includes North Carolina and NE-2) and he adds Florida, Ohio, and Iowa. Trump will be at 259, still short 11 EVs.