Last Friday, The Pulse 2016’s Frank Cannon and Jon Schweppe laid out the most likely path to 270 electoral votes for Donald Trump, arguing that if he were to win all the closest toss-up states at that time, he would need only one more state to go his way in order to overtake Hillary Clinton.
After a week, it looks like the final piece of the puzzle for Trump may be New Hampshire. New polling in the Granite State has been very favorable to Republicans, and the RealClearPolitics average now has Trump leading by 1.5 points with just four days to go.
However, a Trump victory is still far from certain, given how close the race remains in several battleground states. The RCP polling averages in four states (and Maine’s 2nd congressional district) are currently within two points:
- Florida: Clinton +1.2
- Nevada: Trump +2.0
- New Hampshire: Trump +1.5
- North Carolina: Trump +0.8
- Maine’s 2nd congressional district (ME-2): Trump +0.5
In order for Trump to reach 270, he must win each of these states and ME-2 — or else he must win another one or more states where Clinton’s polling lead is more robust. It’s a tall order, though far from an impossibility.
However, of the above states, one holds a place of particular importance if Trump hopes to pull out a win on Tuesday: Florida. And it’s not just because he is slightly behind in the polling right now. It all comes down to electoral math.
If Trump loses one of Nevada, New Hampshire or North Carolina, he could theoretically win one other Clinton-leaning toss-up state in order to reach 270. A Nevada (6 electoral votes) or New Hampshire (4) loss could be made up for by a win in Colorado (9) or Wisconsin (10). A loss in North Carolina (15) could be offset by a win in Pennsylvania (20) or Michigan (16). Although Trump’s chances at victory would be severely complicated by a defeat in any of those states, he would only need to beat the odds in one other state to make up the difference.
This would not be the case for Florida, however. The Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes are more than what are available in any other single swing state, meaning that Trump would need to win at least two additional Clinton-leaning toss-ups in order to make up the difference. And without Pennsylvania, he would need to flip an additional three Clinton-leaning states, an extremely improbable scenario.
All this means that Florida is absolutely critical for Donald Trump’s presidential hopes. While he could potentially win in Florida and still lose, it is highly unlikely that he could lose in Florida and still win.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.