Now to set readers straight about the Electoral College.
It doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. A look at past elections shows the Electoral College follows the national vote.
This was an epiphany to me.
Of course, geniuses like Professor Larry Sabato will tell you the Electoral College matters more than the national vote.
He and his two colleagues wrote this on March 31:
They told us roughly a year ago that Donald Trump had no chance because his unfavorables were high. Another fellow who thought that last summer -- Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight Politics -- has since repented. He is about 27 and he learned his lesson. Instead of blindly obeying conventional wisdom, Enten is doing his own thinking for himself.Election analysts prefer close elections, but there was nothing we could do to make this one close. Clinton’s total is 347 electoral votes, which includes 190 safe, 57 likely, and 100 that lean in her direction. Trump has a total of 191 (142 safe, 48 likely, and 1 leans).Over the years we've put much emphasis on the seven super-swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. While some will fall to the Democrats less readily than others, it is difficult to see any that Trump is likely to grab. In fact, four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual. North Carolina, which normally leans slightly to the GOP, would also be well within Clinton’s grasp in this election after being Mitt Romney’s closest win in 2012.The probability is that the Clinton campaign will target at least one or two of the four Likely Republican states, which would have the effect of helping Democratic Senate nominees where they exist (all of those states have Senate races in November). Because Clinton’s objectives will surely include recapture of the Senate, no doubt her campaign will keep in mind the competitive contests that could yield the net four seats for a tied Senate or five seats for outright Democratic control.Our belief is that, given the high level of party polarization existing in 2016, the election wouldn't necessarily resemble the massive landslides of 1964 (Lyndon Johnson-Barry Goldwater) or 1972 (Richard Nixon-George McGovern). Instead of the winner topping 60% as in 1964 and 1972, it is more likely Clinton would garner less than 55% of the two-party vote.
Good for him.
Enten noticed what I have noticed: The Electoral College vote follows the national vote. There have been four exceptions. In 1824, the Electoral College failed to achieve a majority decision and the vote went to the House of Representatives, where John Quincy Adams won over Andrew Jackson, the plurality winner. Then came 1876 when Samuel Tilden became the first and only candidate to receive a majority of the popular vote and not win the presidency. However, voting irregularities in the South which kept black voters from voting threw the election to a commission, which gave the election to Rutherford B. Hayes. And in 1888, when Cleveland had a plurality, and again in 2000 when Al Gore had a plurality,
Unless there are irregularities (1824 and 1876) or less than a 1% difference in the popular vote, the Electoral College will reflect the national vote. In fact, it usually exaggerates the margin of victory due to its winner-take-all results (except in Maine and Nebraska).
The points made by Harry Enten:
His bottom line?1. The chance of an Electoral College and popular vote split is small.2. Without looking at all the states, we don’t know how to interpret state polls.3. We don’t have a lot of state polls.
You’re going to hear a lot about the Electoral College this cycle. At various points, one state or another will be declared pivotal. But stay calm, especially with so long to go until Election Day. It’s too early to take any poll too seriously. We’ll have plenty of time to get into the weeds of different Electoral College scenarios in the months to come. For now, if you’re interested in whether Trump or Clinton is likely to be our next president, I’d pay attention to the average of national polls. Let’s wait until we’re closer to the election and we have a lot more state polling before we zoom in closer than 30,000 feet.With this information, what should a candidate do?
First throw away the old playbook of campaigning only in the purple states. That playbook was based on a false assumption, which Harry Enten skewered.
Which means you now campaign in all 50 states. Sure? Why not? If the national poll numbers matter more than the state polls do, then a vote in Hawaii is as important as a vote in Florida, in that you want to win nationally by more than 1%, at which point apparently the Electoral College will reflect the national polls and exaggerate the margin of victory (usually).
Trump did that in the primaries. While everyone else was shucking corn at the Iowa State Fair, Trump traveled the country to give a rally or two in various states, say something outrageous, and fly back home to sleep in his bed in his golden penthouse apartment in Manhattan each night.
Eventually, Trump rallies became a thing. When he came to your state, you waited in line for hours to see him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the candidates were Wal-Mart greeters pressing the flesh to network (kiss the butt) of every Republican in Iowa and New Hampshire. Experts said Trump did it wrong.
Now the national polls show Trump down by 6.
We shall see.