Donald Trump has a much harder time winning the 2016 Presidential race than Hillary Clinton. If you look at the below map of states, Democrats start off with roughly 191 “safe” electoral votes and Republicans have 180 (ignoring the two states that split their votes by district). The problem for Trump is, most of the states that aren’t clearly in one column yet are leaning Democrat.
In order to win, Trump will need to win the big key states. So let’s look at some scenarios:
Let’s assume Trump holds Arizona and North Carolina. Neither are guarantees, and North Carolina was close in 2012 with the less divisive Romney running. But if Trump can’t win NC, he certainly won’t be winning states that are hard to flip.
These states bring Trump’s total to 206 votes.
Additionally, let’s assume Clinton holds Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. All three are largely white, working class states. It’s conceivable, although pretty unlikely, that Trump could lose Hispanic heavy states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida, but pick these up instead. For now though, they lean blue.
This brings Clinton to 227. Here’s our likely (although not guaranteed) battleground map:
These are the usual 8 states we’re used to seeing.
So here’s where it gets tricky – Trump pretty much needs to win Florida + 2 of the 3 other big states – Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania. That would put him between 266-273 votes (270 to win). If he wins the big 3 – FL, PA, OH, it’s game over right there. If he loses either OH or PA and wins VA, then he needs another state or two from the pile of NH, IA, CO, NV.
But if Trump loses Hispanic heavy Florida, he’s put in quite a bind.
This map gives Trump Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, and he’s still under 270.
Colorado and Nevada are the hardest swing states among the final 8 for Trump to win. Their demographics, and Western heritage (where Trump has been shown to be less popular than the Eastern US) makes them pretty likely to go to Clinton.
Add on to this the fact that Tim Kaine sures up Virginia for Clinton, and you have an unwinnable race for Trump. If Clinton takes Virginia and Florida both, she can lose 5 of the other 6 swing states and still win.
Because of this, the most likely path for Trump, at the current juncture, appears to be OH, FL, and PA. With those, he hits 273 and gets a slim win.
If he can’t perform in FL, CO, NV, however, Trump will need to win states that traditionally vote Democrat – like the aforementioned rust belt states. A very hard task, but it is one of the only other conceivable routes to win.