US 2016 ELECTIONS
THREE closely watched poll agregators are predicting a Hillary Clinton victory today with the Democratic presidential candidate making a last-minute gain in United States-wide surveys, although her lead over Republican bet Donald Trump remains slim.
Data journalist Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog, Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang and website Real Clear Politics all expect Clinton to muster more than the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College that formally decides who gets to move to the White House on January 20.
The predictions came after major national surveys including those of ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal gave Clinton a four-point edge over Trump.
The populist Trump, who is running on an anti-illegal immigration platform, had managed to narrow a double-digit gap in recent weeks despite numerous sexual assault allegations, with the help of the private server and email leaks scandals hounding Clinton (See US election stories on B7).
Over the weekend, Clinton was cleared anew by the FBI over her handling of emails as secretary of State, but the scandals have largely distracted from her campaign message of continuing the policies of US President Barack Obama, who remains popular after eight years in office.
Silver, who had correctly predicted the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, gave Clinton a 71.6-percent chance of victory.
The US Electoral College system is mostly a winner-take-all system in which each state in the Union gets votes corresponding to the total number of elected representatives in Congress (435 members of the House and 100 senators). The US capital Washington, D.C. has three votes.
A total of 538 electoral votes are at stake, hence the name of Silver’s blog.
According to Silver’s mathematical modelling, Clinton could get 302 electoral votes if she keeps her state-by-state advantage, and Trump, 234.
The neuroscientist Wang is more certain of a Clinton win. Wang’s final and “best estimates” indicate a “near replica” of Obama’s 2012 victory over Mitt Romney: Clinton with 323 electoral votes and Trump, 215.
Real Clear Politics’ poll averages however indicate a close race, with Clinton at just 2 points over the required 270 electoral votes and Trump within striking distance at 266 votes.
This means Clinton loses if Trump is able to flip just one of the so-called “blue” or Democratic states that carried Obama in 2008 and 2012, especially those with disaffected blue-collar workers that form the property mogul’s core voters.
Statistically speaking, however, 15 states could still swing either way, according to Real Clear Politics: Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), New Hampshire (4), Maine CD2 (1), Maine (2), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Georgia (16), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), Arizona (11) and Iowa (6).
Americans will also elect a new House of Representatives, which is likely to remain under Republican control, and 34 out of 100 members of the US Senate which could shift to the Democrats.
Whoever wins the White House, the US is again likely to see a divided government with different parties controlling the executive and legislative branches, a situation that has mostly prevailed since the Nixon years. In short, more gridlock.