If you look at the electoral map today, Clinton has a clear edge over Donald Trump. According to Nate Silver, Hillary still has a 75 percent chance of winning. But it’s going to come down to two states. If we concede Ohio and Iowa to Trump, as it appears it’s trending that way, and assume that Arizona will not flip to Hillary Clinton, the election is basically going to come down to two states: Nevada and Florida. Both states lean to Clinton right now, and she only needs one to win. Trump is narrowly behind in both states, but needs both to win.
A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Clinton looks solid for 265 (she could even lose Nevada’s 6 electoral votes and still win with either Florida or North Carolina). If she wins Florida, she gets to 294. If she wins North Carolina, she gets to 279. If she wins both, she gets 308.
Trump looks solid for 228 electoral votes right now. If he pulls out a victory in North Carolina and Florida, however, he gets to 271 and squeaks in.
Right now, Florida is a toss up. In the last month, about 80 percent of the polls show Clinton winning, but the last couple of polls have edged toward Trump. Early voting is a wash. It’s going to come down to independent voters in Florida, and it’s going to come down to turnout on election day.
If Clinton loses Florida, North Carolina becomes the most important state. It’s why Michelle Obama appeared there last week. It’s why President Obama will appear there this week. It’s a state that went to Romney in 2012 and to Obama in 2008. The good news is that the bathroom bill — HB2 — has put the state in a sour mood with Republicans. Moreover, the demographics shift has trended toward Democrats. Early voting has favored Democrats in North Carolina, too.
Here’s the concern: African-American voters are not turning out in North Carolina in numbers as high as in 2012, and it probably has less to do with the candidate and more to do with the voter suppression efforts underway in the state. Thousands of voter registrations have been cancelled in three counties with a high percentage of black voters (the NAACP is suing). Moreover, six counties with a high percentage of black voters have also drastically reduced the number of polling locations and the number of early voting hours, which has led to much longer lines (in some cases, adding hours) leading to a 50 percent drop in turnout in those counties during the first week of early voting.
A 50 percent drop. It’s objectively not fair that white voters in other counties can vote in 15 minutes, but black voters in these counties have to stand in line for hours.
If Florida falls, as it very well might, North Carolina is crucial, and Democrats — while leading — are facing an uphill battle in terms of getting out the vote thanks to the racist voter suppression efforts of the Republican governor.
It’s going to be OK, everyone. But it’s going to be close. If you live in North Carolina, please vote. Take someone with you and make a day of it (you may need to make a day of it, so bring a sack lunch). Lines may be very long, but you’ll be doing all of us — the entire country — a great service by sticking it out. If you have voted in North Carolina, let us know. We can’t promise you anything but upvotes, but just know this: You really matter this year.