NY Times Predicts November's Electoral College Map Look Exactly Like 2012 - But It's Not That Clear-Cut

For all the talk about 2016’s insane election cycle, one aspect of today’s political landscape seems to hold steady despite the rhetoric—and it happens to be the aspect that matters most in terms of actually electing the president.

According to a New York Times report Thursday, a forecasting model by the paper's analytical journalism vertical the Upshot predicts the November 2016 electoral college will be identical to the November 2012 results, with the exception of one state; according to the current projections, Clinton could win every state President Obama won in 2012, plus North Carolina. 

North Carolina’s role as a wild card is not surprising; the Tar Heel state voted for President Obama in 2008, but Republican challenger Mitt Romney carried the the state in 2012. And this year, North Carolina’s trend as a battleground state continues. A Quinnipiac University survey out Thursday has Clinton leading by four points, while a separate Suffolk University poll also out Thursday has Republican rival Donald Trump up by three.

Given this data, the Times’ projection comes as a surprise to those of us who’ve felt this election cycle has flipped the script on political campaigns. When compared with Mitt Romney—who was the GOP stranded-bearer just four years ago and remains one of the staunchest critics of Trump—the stark differences between the former top candidate and Trump don’t greatly impact the overall numbers. While Trump has more support than Romney had among non-college educated white voters, the lost ground among whites with a college education roughly matches the outflow.

The same is true for Trump when it comes to minority voters. While Trump’s vitriolic, racist sentiments have certainly lost the GOP ground among blacks and Hispanics, the impact on the electoral college isn’t pronounced. Romney polled low among minority voters back in 2012.

As the race continues to tighten, it’s a comfort to know that the models project a similar outcome as 2012. But as the media continues to normalize Trump, it’s possible we could see some dramatic shifts in the electoral college; which—for all the dramatic shifts this election has seen in terms of rhetoric and policy—would make more sense than what the Times Upshot suggests.


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