by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The question this Labor Day, then, isn’t who has the pole position heading into the home stretch, but whether Donald Trump has any realistic path to defeating Hillary Clinton on November 8.
The answer, barring unforeseen and politically transcendent developments, is no.
To be sure, there are still major opportunities for Trump to score points at Clinton’s expense, none more significant than the three presidential debates, the first of which is scheduled for September 26 at Hofstra University in New York. But even if he turned in a series of virtuoso performances that changed some voters’ minds, Trump would still be hampered by the one thing he cannot change: the Electoral College.
Democrats entered 2016 with a decided advantage in the race to accumulate the 270 electoral votes (EVs) needed to win the White House. A bloc of 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, has voted Democratic in each of the past six presidential elections. Together, what political scientists call the ” blue wall” comprises 242 EVs, meaning that Clinton needs to win only another 28 from any combination of competitive battleground states in order to secure the presidency.
Making the map (and math) even friendlier to Democrats is the fact that several long-time Republican strongholds — Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado — have drifted leftward over the past decade. All three were carried by Barack Obama in 2008, and only North Carolina was taken back (barely) by Mitt Romney in 2012. Virginia and Colorado together account for 22 electoral votes; Clinton is leading Trump in both states by vast margins. Those two victories would bring her within six electoral votes of the White House.
In other words, Trump has virtually no margin for error.