The New Electoral Map Shows How Donald Trump Has a Realistic Chance of Winning

September 17th 2016

Aron Macarow

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has enjoyed a lead in most polls over Republican rival Donald Trump since July's nomination conventions concluded. But according to some pollsters, that could be changing.

Despite many faux pas, the Manhattan real estate mogul has enjoyed a recent jump in potential pro-Trump voters, as Clinton has seen her lead shrink over the past three weeks. And based on stronger numbers coming out of key battleground states, Trump may again have a viable path to the 270 electoral votes that he'll need to win the White House, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight reports.

The recent map below, released by the team at 270ToWin, gives us a little more insight.

The states in tan are those that are currently most likely to be contested on November 8 based on polling and professional forecasting. This means that these states — which include Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Florida — are the locations where the election is most likely to be won or lost.

Map of states that are likely to be contested.

But when we take Trump's recent spike in the polls into account in many of these current toss-up states, a possible path to victory emerges.


Trump wins the White House map

Polls by Ipsos show Trump leading in four of the contested states as of September 16 — including Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, and Florida — which we've turned red in the map above. Meanwhile, Michigan is now in a dead heat according to the same poll, and Trump appears to be closing the gap on his Democratic opponent in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Assuming he wins all seven of these states, the Republican party could potentially reach 270 electoral votes and take the presidency.

Trump's overall chances of winning are still lower than Clinton's, standing at just over 40 percent according to FiveThirtyEight. (Another source gives him the same chance of winning right now as selecting two cards of the same suit in a row.) But according to the Upshot, Hillary's key rival has more than doubled his likelihood of becoming president in just three weeks.

The big question: Why?

One answer may be that key battleground states have become redder than they were when President Obama took the White House. As FiveThirtyEight points out:

"Nevada and Iowa have gone from light-blue states to light-red states. Ohio has become a darker shade of red. In 11 of the 14 states we’re looking at, Clinton is doing worse than Obama did."

Another reason may be the greater than average number of Millennials who are considering supporting a third-party candidate this election season, voters that the Clinton campaign is increasingly attempting to court. Either of these could lead to an Electoral College advantage for Trump.

But it's also possible that the Manhattan businessman's current lead is less significant than it looks.

Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia last week, which some believe her campaign and the media handled poorly, and she also recently angered some more conservative potential supporters by calling Trump fans a "basket of deplorables." Getting back on the campaign trail after a three-day mandated doctor break may be enough to erase Clinton's recent losses. With almost two months left to election day, there's still a lot of room for movement in either direction.