PPFA’s Election Night Preview

This is my 200th post on the WordPress site since starting it back in September of 2015. (The first post? Donald Trump and the Fragility of the GOP.) What a long, strange trip it’s been. Thank you to anyone who has read any of my approximately 200,000 words on the Craziest. Election. Ever.

Tonight it comes to an end. At least I hope it does. (I’m looking at you, Nevada.) I’d like to give you a sort of viewing guide. To best prepare yourself, you’ll want to know the following:

  • Poll closing times. Some states’ precincts close at different times, so I always go off the latest precinct. A state will not be called until polls close across the entire state.
  • Some states are called the minute all its polls close. That’s because exit polls show an overwhelming likelihood that the state has been won by one of the candidates.
  • I already predicted 48 states and DC, leaving only Florida and Nevada for today.
  • Remember, it’s a race to 270.

And now, it’s time for PPFA’s Election Night Preview.

All times are Eastern Standard.
States in red will be quickly called for Trump.
States in blue will be quickly called for Clinton.
States in purple will take time.

6:00 PM: Some of Indiana and Kentucky’s precincts close. No calls yet.

7:00 PM: Six states close: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.

  • Trump will sport a 44-3 lead. If you’re a Clinton supporter: don’t panic!
  • If you’re a Trump supporter, don’t gloat.
  • Virginia is the only state to monitor. If either candidate wins it early, that’s a tremendous sign for them, but we’ll probably have to wait a bit. I fully expect it to eventually go to Clinton, making it 44-16 from these states in the long run.

7:30 PM: Three states, with two biggies: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia.

  • Trump will continue his Appalachian dominance to get to 49.
  • North Carolina and Ohio, big but tight states that will take time to count, are must-wins for Trump. I expect him to win both later in the night (more confident in Ohio), but he won’t win them fast enough to have an 82-16 lead before the 8:00 states close.

8:00: Hello! Seventeen states close: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine (3/4 for Clinton, 1/4 for Trump), Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, DC.

  • With the 8:00 states, Trump tacks on 44 more electoral votes, giving him 86 EVs without North Carolina and Ohio but 126 if he has them.
  • Clinton climbs to 91 (counting Virginia).
  • Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire will take a long time.
  • If either candidate wins the purple states early, it’s very meaningful.
    • Eventually, I expect New Hampshire to go Trump (a very tough call) with Pennsylvania going to Clinton.
      • As I said yesterday, if Trump wins Pennsylvania, he’ll quickly become the favorite. The Keystone State is the lock he wants desperately to pick. It is the state for you to keep an eye on.
    • I’ll save Florida for later in today’s post.

8:30: Arkansas shares the spotlight with no one. Trump up 136 – 111 (including swing states).

9:00: Another big one: Arizona, Colorado, KansasLouisiana, MichiganMinnesotaNebraskaNew Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, TexasWisconsinWyoming

  • Trump, with swing states, is up to 213.
  • Clinton rises to 145.
  • I expect Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will ultimately tip to Clinton. Colorado is a tougher call, but I also see it as a Clinton state. If we give her all four, she’s up to 190 and still nipping at Trump’s heals.

10:00: Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah.

  • Trump extends his lead. With swing states, he’d be at 228.
  • Nevada was my other state I found too close too call yesterday. More on that later.
  • Clinton stays stuck at 190, but don’t worry, Democrats: Big Daddy Cali and the Pacific Coast is on deck.

11:00: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

  • Clinton surges into the lead. With allocated swing states, Clinton is on the cusp of victory, up 268 to 232.

1:00 AM: Alaskans give Trump three more electoral votes before resuming their contemplation of suicide.

It’s therefore 268 to 235 with Florida and Nevada still in play:


Florida and Nevada. Nevada and Florida. Each are dramatic in their own right.

Florida, yet again, is the biggest swing state. (It’s tied with New York for the third weightiest state overall, and I suspect after the 2020 census it will leave New York behind.) We know that in 2000 it proved to be the most dramatic state result in history. If Kerry won it in 2004, he would have become presidentIn 2008, it was the third closest state. In 2012, it was Obama’s smallest margin of victory at just 0.89 percent. Yesterday, I wrote about all the conflicting signs in the state, and polling now has Trump up by 0.2 percentage points. The margin of error needs a margin of error.

The source of Nevada’s drama is that it’s our westernmost swing state. Of the ten states to close after 9:00 EST, nine are basically decided. Therefore, if the eastern and Midwest states break closely enough, it’s Nevada that will determine the winner. If I’m right about all my states, for example, and Trump also wins Florida, our count is 268 – 264. Nevada could then put Clinton over the top at 274 or give Trump the victory at exactly 270.

But Florida won’t go to Trump. And neither will Nevada.

Four years ago, Obama’s re-election meant that Democrats had won the popular vote in five of the last six elections. In neither electoral win for the GOP — thanks to Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 — did we know the result until after Election Day. That’s right — you have to go back to 1988 to find the last time Republicans could celebrate a victory on Election Night. When studying this startling trend after Romney’s loss, many pundits and the Republican Party itself wrote post mortems on the Republican presidential struggle. Among the most pressing problems: communicating better with Latinos about why a conservative government would be better for them.

Then they nominated Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Democratic Party excelled at running smart, prepared, organized national campaigns that focused on the ground game: analytics, microtargeting, arranging leadership down to the precinct,  and using social media in creative ways to do that. The Republicans needed to find a way to run a similarly organized campaign.

Then they nominated Donald Trump. He replaced microtargeting with hunches, preparation with winging it, and analytics with what I can only assume was a Magic 8-ball.

The GOP nominated the wrong guy to win this general election. If this election was about Clinton’s character or pliable relationship with the truth, Trump didn’t contrast enough. If this election was about knowledge, he didn’t have enough. If this election was about the GOP finally articulating a winning message to women, minorities, and young people in order to broaden the party base and become competitive again, they couldn’t have nominated a worse candidate. I once said of Marco Rubio that it was as if a laboratory created him for the express purpose of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. With Trump, it’s like he was built for the express purpose of losing to her.

To be sure, Donald Trump came a long way through tapping into the broad anger across the country: anger toward trade deals, the establishment, the Bushes, the Clintons, the President, foreign entanglements, PC culture, porous borders, and all the trends that have steadily loosened the grip over the national and international economy that white, American workers had considered their birthright for generations. Through this understanding of the Republican electorate he took over the party, much to the chagrin of mainstream, neoconservative, free trade Republicans across the country. Through this understanding, he thrashed expectations to become a major party nominee and position himself remarkably close to the presidency.

But not close enough. After Clinton’s victory, pundits will opine that more Americans rejected his vision than embraced it. They’ll also point out that the superior Democratic ground game mobilized Latinos and early votes. Our two holdout states — Florida and Nevada — have plenty of both. Final prediction: Clinton 303 – Trump 235. (Popular vote: Clinton 49, Trump 45, Johnson 4, Stein 2, other + rounding 1)

Thank you so much for reading.


10 thoughts on “PPFA’s Election Night Preview”

  1. 2016: Latinos, women, and, well, pretty much everyone except white men, save the United States of America!
    I hope you’re right, Che!
    Thanks for your work during this ride.


  2. Ian’s analytic, informed and just funny enough navigational guidance has helped us through this historic and unprecedented national ordeal. By so doing, he’s delivered just what the doctor ordered! The only remaining question is whether he’ll hit the bullseye with his final prognostication. Bravo !

    Frank Spain


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.