Right up front, I want to provide the caveat that I don’t think presidential polls, even state rather than national ones, amount to a hill of beans this early in the process. Having said that, let’s take a look at what it would mean for the Electoral College if the latest Quinnipiac polls out of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are correct.
The polls show Clinton with a clear lead in Florida (47%-39%), but locked in ties in Ohio (40%-40%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%).
So, let’s say that Florida is solidly blue at this point but suddenly Pennsylvania is winnable for Trump. Or, to be more precise, let’s look at what it would mean if Trump lost Florida but won in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.
For starters, Obama won in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. If we keep everything the same and award Ohio and Pennsylvania to Trump, the result is 294-244.
So, winning Ohio and Pennsylvania is a good start, but without Florida being a possibility, it’s hard to get from 244 to the 270 votes needed to win.
Let’s give Trump Virginia. That get’s him to a 257-281 deficit. New Hampshire gets him to 261-277.
I don’t feel like I can give Trump Iowa based on his poor performance there in the caucuses, but even if I did, he would still lose 267-271. At this point, I am out of states. I can’t see Trump doing well in Nevada or Colorado. He seems terribly weak in Wisconsin. The only remaining state out there that is theoretically ripe for Trump is Michigan.
So, if Trump can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and New Hampshire and Michigan (but not Iowa). That gets him a 277-261 victory. In fact, in this scenario, he doesn’t even need New Hampshire.
This seems like his only path.
And it assumes that he won’t lose Arizona or North Carolina or Indiana or Georgia, or any other states that were carried by Romney. But, of course, John McCain lost North Carolina and Indiana to Obama, and Georgia and Arizona are going to be hotly contested this time around.
If Quinnipiac is correct and Florida isn’t even a swing state this time around, the path to Republican victory is very, very narrow. But it is at least discernible. Trump will need to go after Pennsylvania and Michigan with everything he’s got.