web analytics

Time to Start Thinking About the Electoral College Totals

A by-the-numbers breakdown of who wins where.

by | Jul 11, 2024 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Much airtime has been devoted to presidential polling on a national level, with somewhat less given to the all-important battleground states. Yet little talk has been allocated to where the Electoral College numbers currently sit. While some states are almost certain to follow historical trends (think New York for Democrats and Wyoming for Republicans), the real contest rests in the toss-ups.

Who’s in the Game?

Different organizations follow their own individual criteria for what makes a “toss-up” state. RealClearPolitics (RCP) currently lists 198 safe bets for President Joe Biden out of the available 538 and 219 for Donald Trump. This leaves 121 Electoral College votes in the toss-up range from 11 states*. The number to aim for is the all-important 270.

Poll company FiveThirtyEight calculates that things are a little tighter, with Biden on 226 and Trump on 262 – leaving just four states as toss-ups: Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. A total of 50 EC votes up for grabs.

While every outlet uses different models to determine the results, each partakes of the same polling feast to gather its ingredients. So, what happens if we examine the wider toss-up group (RCP’s) and filter for only states that have either candidate polling outside the margin of error?

Electoral College Polling

Taking the starting position of Biden on 198 and Trump on 219, and an acceptable margin of error as 3.5%:

Arizona – 11 EC votes: Trump +5.4%

Biden has not beaten Trump in an Arizona poll since April 2023. In 2020, Biden took the Grand Canyon State by less than 10,000 votes out of more than 3.2 million ballots cast, breaking a GOP run that had been in place since 2000.

Georgia – 16 EC Votes: Trump +4%

You have to go back to November 2023 to find a poll that favored Biden in Georgia. Like Arizona, the Peach State has a recent history of choosing Republicans for president, until 2020, when it went for Biden by less than 12,000 votes out of a total of almost five million. Trump took Georgia in 2016 by a clear five points against Hillary Clinton.

New banner Another Liberty Nation Original 1Nevada – 6 EC Votes: Trump +5.2%

The Silver State has been reliably blue since Barack Obama’s 12-point blowout in 2008. Trump lost here in 2016 to Clinton by roughly two-and-a-half points and in 2020 to Biden by approximately the same margin. But the polling heavily favors The Donald this time around. The last time Biden came top in a poll was the week of the Hamas attack in Israel.

North Carolina – 16 EC Votes: Trump +5.8%

Aside from a brief flirtation with Obama in 2008 (who beat John McCain by just 14,000 votes), North Carolina has been reliably red since Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980. In both 2016 and 2020, Trump won the state, a feat that – if the polling is any indication – he is likely to repeat in 2024. One has to venture back to October 2023 to find a survey that favors the incumbent president.

Pennsylvania – 19 EC Votes: Trump +5.3%

With its precious 19 EC votes, the Keystone State is on everyone’s radar. Biden has practically camped out here in the hopes that the voters will do for him once more what they did in 2020 – put him over the top (notably, as they also did for Trump in 2016). With Pennsylvania in the president’s back pocket, he has more pathways to the crucial 270 EC votes. But the current polling suggests that this might be a heavy lift.

The Tale of the Tape

When adding the above EC votes to Trump’s “safe seat” total, he comes in at 287, more than enough to win the required 270 – even if he were to lose Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, or Georgia.

The observant reader will notice that, of the toss-up races with a candidate outside of the margin of error, Biden does not appear in a single one. Astutely noted! While Biden currently holds a lead in Minnesota (3%), New Hampshire (3%), and Virginia (2.2%), they are all within the margin of error; the same goes for Trump in Michigan (0.6%) and Wisconsin (2.2%).

Should these polls be proven accurate, Biden would need to win Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and one EC vote extra, such as from Nebraska’s Second District. This would give him a total of 251 – meaning he needs to overturn a 5.3% advantage and capture Pennsylvania from Trump to cross the finish line. It’s a much harder road for the incumbent than for the challenger.

A lot can change in the 100-plus days of campaigning that remain. But two notable events have come to pass that could determine the ultimate course. First, Trump seems highly unlikely to be convicted of any more felonies before the election. He also will likely not be sentenced to prison any time soon for the 34 he has already been found guilty of in light of the sure-to-come appeals in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent presidential immunity ruling.

Second, Biden appears unable to dig himself out of the cognitive ability ditch in which he found himself after the disastrous debate. Support within his own party is wavering, with a number of congressional Democrats openly asking for a new candidate. Add to that the Fourth Estate’s calls for his replacement, and it suggests that Biden’s prospects have only one trajectory.

* Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Michigan (15), Minnesota (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (16), Pennsylvania (19), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), and Nebraska CD2 (1)

Read More From Mark Angelides

Latest Posts

JD Vance – The Running Mate

By Andrew Wolf, Jr. The Republican VP pick, JD Vance, has not always seen eye-to-eye with the former president,...

The Canonization of Joe Biden

Even before the white puff of smoke could be seen rising above the Democratic National Headquarters in...

Exit Stage Far-Left: The Biden Aftermath

President Joe Biden on Sunday, July 21, officially pulled out of the 2024 race, leaving a slew of issues that...

Donald Trump and the Weight of History

The world has changed, will politics keep up? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V-VtqLWJEw [roku-ad align="center"...