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With polls showing growing trouble for the GOP at the presidential level, I checked out Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Electoral College Rating and it ought to either send a shudder down the spines of Republicans or, for those like me, provide a sense of rejoicing. The projection shows a race that is not even close and which I hope will only worsen for the GOP. As noted in the previous post, only devastating losses will either kill the GOP or perhaps set the stage for the rise of what one columnist described is a Republican Party in exile. Here are the Crystal Ball's comments on the map set out above:
On March 31, we released our first general election map of the Electoral College. With our self-imposed rule of permitting no cop-out “toss-ups” — a rule we’ll try to hold to as we handicap this year’s Electoral College map — our bottom-line totals were 347 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton and 191 for Donald Trump. We’ve made modest changes since: Pennsylvania has morphed from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic, while Virginia — after Tim Kaine was added to the Democratic ticket — went the other way from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. Arizona and Georgia went from Likely Republican to Leans Republican, and usually reliable Utah from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
But the total has remained 347 D to 191 R.
Today we add one further alteration: We are moving Colorado from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. This also does not affect the Electoral College total, though it does push a competitive state further toward Clinton. Public and private polling, plus our own survey of key Democrats, Republicans, and independent journalists suggests that the GOP is not very competitive in Colorado this year. That includes the Senate race too, which we are moving from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic. Sen. Michael Bennet (D), a very close winner in 2010, should be able to run ahead of Clinton against an underfunded Republican opponent, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who national Republicans appear to have written off.
We certainly aren’t denying that certain events could upend all predictions. A surprise recession (few if any predicted the September 2008 economic collapse, even a couple of months’ out) or terrible instances of domestic terrorism in the fall might cause just enough voters to throw up their hands and say, “Enough. We need a change even if we don’t much like the change!”
It’s essential to note that the love-hate feelings for Trump and Clinton are eye-popping, and this unusual factor may distort expectations. Trump in particular is such an outlier or aberration that many standard election models by political scientists may not be able to project the election results as well as they usually do.
Trump supporters turn this around and insist that many live-interviewer poll respondents are not admitting their preference for the GOP nominee because it is socially undesirable to be for Trump (the so-called “shy Tory effect” that is well documented in the United Kingdom). Maybe this is happening, though so far we see little difference between live-phone surveys, where a few Trump backers might hesitate to tell an interviewer who they support, and online polls, which don’t require the respondent to actually talk to someone when revealing their views.The news media are obsessed with daily, or hourly, “game changers.” That is understandable, since their businesses depend on “breaking news” eyeballs and clicks from people convinced that absolutely everything matters.
The Crystal Ball is of the opposite view. Most things really don’t matter, or they just reinforce the fundamentals and partisanship already in place. And that, dear readers, is why you keep on seeing variations of the same old map on our site.