At the time of this writing, there are eighteen days until the Presidential Election.
Things have gotten extremely heated, not only between the candidates of the two major parties, but at the grassroots level. I know I have personally lost friends along the way due to this election, as well as engaged in several vitriolic debates.
Allow me to say this out the gate: I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.
First, chances are that you’re set in your ways at this point, and nothing I say or do is going to convince you to vote for anyone other than the person you’ve decided to vote for.
Second, it becomes a major headache when a public figure endorses a candidate because then fans who endorse other candidates either rage quit or get into heated debates (or both).
What I will do instead is discuss the five candidates in the running who have received the most press coverage, discuss their platforms briefly, discuss ways that they could win the election (or if they have no chance, discuss why), and then tell you, objectively, what I think will happen on November 8th, as well as other factors to consider.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
DONALD TRUMP: REPUBLICAN PARTY CANDIDATE
WEBSITE: Donald J. Trump on the issues
RUNNING MATE: Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana
OCCUPATION: Real-estate businessman, reality television personality
PLATFORM: American exceptionalism, stricter immigration laws, opposition to refugees, bias in the media, counter-terrorism, economic growth, substandard infrastructure
CONTROVERSIES: Trump has made several comments that have been construed by his opponents as bigoted in nature, both past and present, including a leaked tape opponents claim is him advocating sexual assault (for a broader list of those, click here); is accused of being “too friendly” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is currently facing law suits regarding his Trump University endeavor and being accused of raping a minor.
Trump’s supporters refute the above, and insist that his comments have been taken grossly out of context and that the lawsuits he faces are witch hunts designed to denigrate him in the eyes of the American voting populace.
ON THE BALLOT IN: All 50 states.
STRATEGY TO WIN: According to Real Clear Politics, a site which compiles various polls from many sources to generate a composite picture of how candidates are doing, at the time of writing, Trump trails his main opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by about 92 electoral votes.
There are several swing states this election. Politico identifies Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin as swing states.
Provided that all other states currently leaning Trump go all in for him, and the states leaning Hillary stay with her, Trump must win Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, either Indiana or Minnesota, secure wins in Arizona and Nevada, and take one of the remaining swing states (New Hampshire, Michigan, or Wisconsin) from Hillary. Failure to meet all the above criteria would result in a Hillary Clinton win.
This is before we factor in independent candidates (more on that later).
HILLARY CLINTON: DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE
WEBSITE: Hillary Clinton on the issues
RUNNING MATE: Tim Kaine, United States Senator from Virginia
OCCUPATION: Lawyer, Senator, Secretary of State
PLATFORM: Women’s rights, LGBT rights, healthcare, environmental issues, education, tax increases
CONTROVERSIES: Setting aside allegations that she was complicit in covering up her husband’s alleged sexual misconduct, Hillary Clinton’s controversies run the gamut from taking furniture when she left the office of Secretary of State, to her defense of a child rapist when she practiced law, to her mismanaged response to the attacks on a temporary consulate and a secret CIA facility, both located in Benghazi, Libya, to her keeping classified information on a private e-mail server. Those can be found in detail here and here. In addition, hacker organization WikiLeaks acquired thousands of e-mails and have been leaking them throughout the campaign, detailing what her critics have called her ultimate corruption.
Clinton’s supporters allege that the right wing is taking everything out of proportion and that, were she a man, a Republican, or both, there would not be any outrage, spurring allegations of partisanship and misogyny.
ON THE BALLOT IN: All 50 states.
STRATEGY TO WIN: Hillary Clinton is at a distinct advantage going into the election, with the media focused on Donald Trump’s various controversies.
With the assumption that the states solidly for Hillary remain that way, all Hillary has to do is win one open swing state. To win any of those swing states, even a state with a small electoral count like Nevada, would push her over the 270 mark required to win the electoral college and the presidency.
There’s also been talk that Hillary could win Texas, which would guarantee her victory over Donald Trump. Even without her winning Texas, to take even a handful of the swing states would place her well over one hundred electoral votes ahead of Donald Trump.
GARY JOHNSON: LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE
WEBSITE: Gary Johnson on the issues
RUNNING MATE: William Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts
OCCUPATION: Businessman, author, former Governor of New Mexico
PLATFORM: Isolationist foreign policy, fiscal conservatism, decriminalization of marijuana and termination of the drug war, reduction of government size and scope
CONTROVERSIES: The biggest Johnson controversies have revolved around foreign policy. He famously asked, “What is Aleppo?” during an interview about ISIS, and when asked about foreign leaders he admired, he was unable to name a single one, which his critics say proves that he lacks enough knowledge to be commander-in-chief. There is also Johnson’s support of Edward Snowden, which has drawn the ire of foreign policy conservatives.
Johnson’s supporters counter that most of those who criticize Johnson for not knowing where Aleppo is cannot place Aleppo on a map, and that Johnson was actually being coy and leaning towards the anarcho-capitalist roots of libertarianism by implying that no government leader is good. These people also tend to side in the “Snowden is a hero” camp rather than the “Snowden is a traitor” camp.
ON THE BALLOT IN: All 50 states.
STRATEGY TO WIN: There is zero way that Gary Johnson will win the Presidency outright. His only chance would be in a scenario where Trump would be poised to win and taken Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio, and either Indiana or Minnesota. If that were the case and he were to take a swing state (New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin), it would prevent both Trump and Hillary from reaching 270 electoral votes, at which point the 12th Amendment would be invoked and the House of Representatives would pick the President out of the three frontrunners.
However, it is very unlikely that the House of Representatives–controlled by Republicans–would pick a Libertarian. It is far more likely they would pick Trump in this scenario, as he would be in the same party as them and thus could use party pressure to keep him in line, something that would not work on a Libertarian President. In addition, there are ideological differences, especially in regards to foreign policy, which would make Johnson a less than palatable choice for Republican congressmen.
I mentioned in a Facebook post before that before the Libertarian Party can take the national stage, they need to develop a stronger local presence in state and city governments. Once that has been established, they can go for the federal legislature, and then they would be in position to realistically achieve the presidency.
So, bottom line here: Johnson has no realistic chance of winning.
JILL STEIN: GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE
WEBSITE: Jill Stein on the issues
RUNNING MATE: Ajamu Baraka, soldier, human rights activist
OCCUPATION: Physician, activist, former gubernatorial candidate
PLATFORM: Environmental issues; poverty; education, healthcare, and jobs as positive rights; wealth redistribution; pacifism
CONTROVERSIES: The only controversy of which I am aware that Jill Stein was party to was when she vandalized construction equipment in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. A warrant was issued for her arrest. Her detractors cite this as proof that she is unfit for duty as President.
In contrast, her supporters find her to be genuine and passionate, and cite the vandalism as proof that she is a genuine person who should be the next President.
ON THE BALLOT IN: According to her website, Stein is on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia, and can be written in the ballot in Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia. She is not an option in Nevada, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
STRATEGY TO WIN: Jill Stein? Win?
Jill Stein is considered too left wing even for most Democrats. There’s certainly no way she could win in the House of Representatives under a 12th Amendment vote.
That’s straight up impossible. Not even worth drawing up a map.
EVAN MCMULLIN: INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
WEBSITE: Evan McMullin on the issues
RUNNING MATE: Mindy Finn, businesswoman, political consultant
OCCUPATION: CIA case officer, banker, House consultant
PLATFORM: Strong foreign policy without being belligerent, pro-2nd Amendment, reducing size and scope of government
CONTROVERSIES: Surprisingly, none. All that comes up when one Googles “Evan McMullin controversies” is that he either entered the race too late or he’s not “conservative” enough for some social conservatives.
ON THE BALLOT IN: 11 states (Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina), with write-in access in 23 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin)
STRATEGY TO WIN: On the surface, it may seem like McMullin has zero chance of winning. He has even smaller ballot access than Jill Stein.
However, look back to where Trump and Clinton are in a deadlock. Virginia is considered a swing state, and McMullin is on the ballot in that state. If it came down to the wire like that, if McMullin takes Virginia, he pulls enough votes from Hillary to prevent her from reaching 270 electoral votes, and Trump falls short, which sends it to the House.
What makes me think McMullin even has a chance of winning Virginia to merit discussing it? Well, as we speak, McMullin stands poised to take Utah’s electoral votes from both Clinton and Trump. That would make him the first independent candidate to win electoral votes in 48 years (the last one being George Wallace in 1968).
If McMullin focused his campaigning in swing states and traditional red states where Hillary threatens Trump (such as Arizona and Texas), he could help deadlock and send the election to the House. This is contingent on Hillary not winning Texas or Florida with current predictions, as if she wins either one of those, McMullin would then have to win additional states from Hillary in areas more likely to vote Democrat than constitutional conservative.
Which brings me to my final point of how McMullin could win: if it’s sent to the House, McMullin is in ideological agreement with many members of the House. The choice would be between a Republican many detractors have claimed is not conservative at all and an independent whose platform is largely center-right and focused on the Constitution. Trump. With a growing list of Republicans who have publicly opposed Trump, there is a chance that the House Republicans will opt for McMullin over Trump.
Then again, that in itself is a 50/50 chance, not a guarantee. That remains to be seen, but is enough of a possibility to warrant discussion.
Trump’s numbers in the polls have steadily declined with each debate. Polls conservative, liberal, and neutral all have Clinton in the lead. Clinton’s WikiLeaks controversy have not seem to have done the damage to her that Trump’s remarks have done to him.
My prediction is that Clinton will take the key swing states that Trump would need to make it a neck-and-neck race, and will more than likely win with a 100+ electoral vote lead over Trump.
McMullin will take Utah, but unless he somehow takes dozens, if not close to hundreds, of electoral votes from Clinton (not a possibility in my estimation), it will not be enough to keep Clinton from securing victory.
Hillary Clinton will more than likely be the next President of the United States.
Do not mistake my prediction for endorsement. Again, I am not going to tell you who to vote for. Again in bold print, I am not going to tell you who to vote for. This is not an endorsement.
I’m merely analyzing the feel in the polls and extrapolating that into a most likely outcome.
This method worked for me in 2012, when I predicted that several gaffes from Republican nominee Mitt Romney would cost him majorly in the general election, and incumbent President Barack Obama won with a comfortable margin of 332 to 206.
I’m predicting a similar margin for this election:
We shall revisit this on November 9th and see how accurate or inaccurate my predictions are.
All in all, I hope you found this informative and opened your eyes to the variety of candidates running for President in 2016.
All maps generated by the author via http://www.270towin.com.