The Path to Pennsylvania Avenue

With only weeks until election day, Casey Kroll analyses the various ways Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton could win the American presidential election and sit in the Oval Office.

Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have to plan strategically in the final weeks of the election if they wish to occupy the White House. (Photo: Matt Wade Photography).

Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will have to plan strategically in the final weeks of the election if they wish to occupy the White House. (Photo: Matt Wade Photography).

It was only a couple of halcyon months ago when the road was clear for a Clinton win: the former Secretary of State was crushing Trump in the polls – both nationally and in the battleground states. The summer was self-destructive and even near suicidal for the Republican nominee. He had insulted the family of a fallen American soldier, and the floundering Trump campaign was barely keeping up. This was no longer a competition, and Clinton would win by a landslide come November.

Then, the impossible happened: Trump changed. His rhetoric became less bombastic and the former reality TV star began to act, dare I say, “presidential.” He began to read from a teleprompter with an unobtrusive tone and visited foreign leaders. This reformation, combined with a regretful buzzword used to label Trump supporters, as well as a Clinton health scare, allowed Trump to step right back in the race. Both nominees have come to realise the ugly truth: their opponent could very well win the presidency and the competition has never been closer.

Clinton leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics electoral map by 95 electoral votes (260-165), 10 away from victory. (Source: RealClearPolitics).

Clinton leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics electoral map by 95 electoral votes (260-165), 10 away from victory. (Source: RealClearPolitics).

The Electoral Map, if viewed by laymen, is a labyrinthine combination of blue, red, and grey (with other electoral maps adding even more colors).  But the mere changing of several grey states can change the course of American – and then world – history.

Trump and Clinton are both vying for certain states that could lean Democrat or Republican – swing states – and defend their own states, which have voted for their party consistently in past history (like solid blue California or solid red Texas).

Here are the different state-winning combinations with a Trump or Clinton win.

 For A Clinton Win:

If the Democratic nominee hopes to win this year and lead the American people, she has to first defend states that have remained blue in the past. These states include Minnesotta (10 Electoral Votes), Wisconsin (10 EVs), Michigan (16 EVs), and Virginia (13 EVs). RealClearPolitics is confident she can defend both Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia. Add Minnesotta and New Hampshire and that puts her over the top. RealClearPolitics gives Clinton a solid lead in all of those states (many of them swing states) after recent exposure of a 2005 audio tape where Trump made lewd comments about women.

To leave the whole election up to the decision of a few swing states would be imprudent, and that is where Hillary’s best electoral weapon comes in: Pennsylvania. The East Coast state holds a prodigious 20 electoral votes for the winner, including a strong history of voting blue. If Clinton wins the blue state (as Obama did in 2012 and 2008), she will only be 60 EVs away from being the first female president in American history. Florida, too, is a top prize with 29 EVs, but the state has voted both ways in previous elections. (Not to mention that Florida has opted for the winner in all but one of the last ten elections.) If Clinton can win both Florida and Pennsylvania (a total 49 EVs) she would win the election.

For a Hillary win, she needs to defend the blue states Obama won in the past as well as win a few swing states in the process. Clinton will have to fight vigorously against her turnout conundrum, as voters are not as ethusiastic to turn out and vote. Luckily for her, she has a strong lead against Trump in Pennsylvania, and with a head start already given to her, she would aim to leave Trump in the rearview mirror.

The election will come down to who can defend their states and convert a few opposing territories to their side. If Trump can do that, he will win. If Clinton can do that, she will win.

For a Trump Win:

If Trump seeks to win this election he must be “The Converter.” With 165 EVs already guaranteed, he has to win at least 105 more. The odds for him are looking slim, but he can still win.

First, he has a few “must wins”: Florida (29 EVs), Ohio (18 EVs), and Iowa (6 EVs) will increase his total up to 218. It’s likely Trump can add Georgia (16 EVs) to his list as well, placing him at 234 – only 36 away from victory. Now, Ohio and Iowa have gone blue in the past, and if he fails to convert these two states, it is unlikely he’ll be the 45th President of the United States. The good news for him is that he is leading in Iowa and fighting for Ohio (it is too close to call).

Florida, too, is a tough state to win; if Florida goes blue, so do his chances. Grab Arizona (11 EVs and leaning Republican) and North Carolina (15 EVs and has vorted Republican in the past), and Trump is only 10 away from victory. The rest of the states are targets Democrats need to defend. Trump’s best chance is to do everything stated above, as well as convert Nevada and Colorado – the two Democratic states he’s polling best in. This will push him past 270 EVs and grant him the keys to the White House. Any of these scenarios (for both Clinton and Trump) could go haywire very quickly. If Trump can convert even more blue states away from Clinton, his chances of winning increase exponentially. The same can be said for Clinton, as she tries to turn red into blue in a state like North Carolina.

This election will come down to the difference of only a few electoral votes, and a Trump or Clinton landslide is highly unlikely (no matter how many times fanatics from either side promote the idea). Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton must watch what they say, campaign effectively in strategic states, and pick each other apart to ensure victory. It will be fascinating to see how each state will swing – in favor of a longtime politician who says we’ll be “Stronger Together,” or her polar opposite: a man who lacks the experience but claims he will “Make America Great Again.”

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Casey Kroll

Political Correspondent (Republican) at Filibuster
Casey Kroll is a 17-year-old writer from San Diego, California. Casey is an avid studier of foreign policy. A Republican, Casey is a proud conservative and has a fondness for debating and discussing politics. His favorite political commentators include Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, and Charles Krauthammer. He enjoys engaging in robust debate with those who do not share his points of view, and attempts to win over those who disagree. Casey also plays the piano, performs magic, and writes short stories in his free time. He tweets at @casey3040.
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