President Trump is trying to stop former Vice President Joe Biden’s pathway to 270 electoral votes. The polls released over the weekend suggest that this will be difficult, but not an impossible task.
Trump’s best path to stop Biden is for there to be a larger than average polling error in Arizona and especially Pennsylvania.
The electoral math is pretty simple. Biden needs to find 38 electoral votes on top of the 232 in the contests that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. He’s likely to win the one from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Remember, the state of Nebraska allocates an electoral vote to the winner of each of its congressional districts.
On top of that, Biden holds clear and significant leads in two states Trump won by less than a point in 2016: Michigan and Wisconsin. A CNN/SSRS poll on Saturday put Biden up 12 points in Michigan among likely voters, while Biden led in Wisconsin by 8 points in a CNN/SSRS poll and 11 points in a New York Times/Siena College poll released Sunday.
Those two states are worth a combined 26 electoral votes. Add in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, you get Biden to 259 electoral votes.
This means Biden needs to get 11 more electoral votes. Other polls released on Saturday and Sunday from individual states worth at least 11 electoral votes suggest he will have options to choose from.
The hardest lift is probably in Florida. A New York Times/Siena College poll has Biden and Trump separated by 3 points, while an ABC News/Washington Post poll has the race within 2 points. Although the nominal leader in both was different, the polls combined indicate what has become clear for weeks. Florida and its 29 electoral votes are too close to call with perhaps a slight edge to Biden.
Biden could also get to 270 electoral votes with North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes. A CNN/SSRS poll had Biden up by 6 points there yesterday, while the polling average puts the race closer to a 3 point edge. This is a race that Biden is favored to win, though one where an average sized polling error (about 3 points in competitive presidential races dating back to 1972) would be enough for Trump to emerge victorious.
If Trump is able to take both Florida and North Carolina (along with Georgia which has similar polling to Florida), then you can begin to see how Trump could pull it off.
He would need to win in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Is that possible? Yes. Will it be easy? No.
Read the full analysis here.