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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—November 6, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

 

It’s finally here!!! Election Day is Tuesday, November 8; and - as I do every election season - I'm listing here some key things to watch. Remember, it’s not just the White House at stake; Congress is worth watching, too! Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Plan Your Bedtime” – I know that not everyone is a political junkie like me. I am scheduled to work all day and night (with a HUGE Facebook appearance, the details of which I can’t share yet), and then I will probably see the sunrise Wednesday morning. Here’s your bedtime cue from the Eastern Time Zone. If Hillary Clinton is declared the winner in Florida, North Carolina, or Ohio, then you can mosey off to bed. Donald Trump must win all three, or he won’t be President of the United States. I’ve done the math countless times, and he must win all three states.

“Rust Belt Never Sleeps” – Okay, let’s assume Trump wins all three of the above-mentioned states and carries Arizona and Nevada, too. That brings him (with the other definite Trump states) to 265 Electoral College votes, just five short of the White House. Trump needs just one more state, and here are the only options: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Colorado. A top Trump operative – who is a trusted friend of mine – tells me this is why Trump has spent so many of the campaign's waning days in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He needs just one more state to go over the top.

“Expect the Unexpected” – Today, Real Clear Politics moved Michigan from “Leans Democrat” to “Toss-Up” status. So, too, for Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. National poll averages still have Clinton up by 1.7 percent – or similar amounts – but the race is trending to Trump. Whether he can win is still challenging. Finding that last state is tough; but if I had to pick the likely one, it would be Colorado.

“North Carolina is King!” – In 2000, Florida was the most important state. In 2004, Ohio was the “king-maker.” This year, I believe that distinction will go to North Carolina, and for two reasons. First, as stated, if Hillary Clinton wins North Carolina, she’s our next President. Second, but almost of equal importance, her coattails may carry North Carolina U.S. Senate nominee Deborah Ross to Capitol Hill. The Senate race in North Carolina is just as close as Clinton v. Trump. If Trump wins the state, incumbent Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is likely going back to Washington, and the GOP will remain in control of the Senate.

“Why the Senate Matters” – According to the Constitution, only the U.S. Senate has the power to confirm or reject Federal Court Judges (including U.S. Supreme Court Justices). Only the Senate gets to approve international treaties. Hillary Clinton would be greatly empowered if she wins the White House and also wins control of the Senate. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the Presidency in a landslide so huge that it also swept in Republican control of the Senate for the first time in 24 years. That paved the way for a lot of the Reagan agenda, and helped shaped the Federal Court system for a generation.

“Plan-B” – Well, I painted a scenario above of a Pennsylvania-Michigan-Wisconsin path for Trump to become President if he wins only one of those states. But can he still win if he loses in all three? The answer is "Yes," and it depends on Colorado. If Trump heads west of the Mississippi with the 265 Electoral Votes in states where he now leads, then he still needs one more state. The only possibilities are New Mexico (where Clinton holds an eight-point lead) or Colorado (where her lead is just two points). Colorado could decide the White House race if we have no clear winner as we move into the Mountain Time Zone.

“The Significance of ‘October Surprises’” -- I am surprised I am even writing some of the things I’m writing this week. When the “Access Hollywood” tapes were released on October 7, I figured Trump was toast. Clinton’s poll lead ballooned to 12-to-14 points. How could Trump overcome that? But Clilnton's problem is that WikiLeaks emails and the FBI reports came out in the last week, and that simply swung the momentum away from her. In short, the effect of Trump’s “October Surprise” peaked and then waned, just as Hillary's “October Surprises” surfaced. In politics – as with so many things in life – timing is everything.

“Third-Party Swing” – Another thing to watch is the exit polling, especially among those who are (or planned to be) third-party voters. Last summer, the two most prominent third-party candidates were Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein, who collectively polled as high as 18 percent. Their combined total is now down to six percent. My educated guess is that people who earlier wanted to vote for Johnson or Stein simply decided to cast their votes for someone who could actually win – Trump or Clinton. The most fascinating exit poll numbers will show where the majority of Bernie Sanders’ voters wound up casting their ballots. That may be what decides this election!

“My Prediction” – I make predictions, not endorsements. I make educated guesses, not exercises in wishful thinking. My gut and my analytical mind both tell me that the Electoral College outcome will be 273 for Clinton, to 265 for Trump, meaning that he never finds that one missing state which I spoke of above. It is also possible that Trump wins the popular vote, but loses in the Electoral College, a party reversal of the 2000 outcome. I also predict Republicans will hold the U.S. Senate by a 52-48 margin, but may lose 10 to 20 seats in the U.S. House, where they will still hold solid control. Divided (and shared) governance will continue, but may do so in gridlock.

What are your predictions for Election Day? Just click the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

 

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