President Donald Trump still has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win re-election, but political experts are saying he has to win North Carolina to get there.
“Biden-Harris can win the election without North Carolina. I don’t think Trump can,” Thom Little, a UNCG political science professor, told WCNC. “If Trump wins North Carolina, that’s going to tell me at that point the Trump-Pence ticket still has a shot.”
According to Real Clear Politics, the average poll is down to just a 1.5 point lead for former Vice President Joe Biden in North Carolina.
If you put that percentage point into terms of registered voters it means that if less than 110,000 voters change their minds, Trump wins NC.
fivethirtyeight.com, a political statistics website, looked at all the polls. They found that based on the most recent responses from voters, Trump’s chances of winning re-election are 13 in 100.
You can click on each of those pathways Trump could win. In every one of them shown on the website, he has to win North Carolina
“In 2016, his chances of winning the election were those of drawing an inside straight in poker. … The question this year is whether he can draw an inside straight two hands in a row,” said Whit Ayres a veteran Republican pollster. “It is theoretically possible but practically difficult.”
While Trump has multiple roads to victory, his most likely route hinges on winning two crucial battleground states: Florida and Pennsylvania. If he can claim both and hold onto other Sun Belt states he narrowly carried in 2016 — North Carolina and Arizona — while playing defense in Georgia and Ohio, which he won handily in 2016 but where Biden is now competitive, he will win.
Trump’s campaign is also continuing to pour time and money into Wisconsin and Michigan, longtime Democratic strongholds he flipped his way by the slimmest of margins four years ago, while trying to defend Iowa and Maine’s second congressional district and grab Nevada and Minnesota, two states his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton narrowly won.
Trump’s campaign points to other factors pointing in their favor: The campaign and the Republican Party have spent years investing in a powerful voter outreach operation and have 2.5 million volunteers knocking on millions of doors each week. They have seen spikes in GOP voter registration in several keys states. And Trump voters are more enthusiastic about their candidate than Democrats are about Biden. The Democrats are driven more by their hate for Trump.
“We feel better about our pathway to victory right now than we have at any point in the campaign this year,” Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, told staff on a conference call this week. “And this optimism is based on numbers and data, not feel, not sense.”
But polling shows Trump trailing or closely matched in nearly every state he needs to win to reach 270 Electoral College votes. Barring some kind of major upset, Trump needs to hold onto at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania Wisconsin or Michigan, said Paul Maslin, a longtime Democratic pollster based in Wisconsin.
“I don’t see any other way for Trump to do this,” he said.
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