Election results are beginning to come in, and it looks like the state of Florida will once again be a tight race between the Republican and the Democratic candidate. How important is this state for Donald Trump? Can he win without it?
It’s technically possible for Trump to still win if he loses Florida, but it will be very, very difficult to do so. The state is worth 29 Electoral College votes, and it is a key part of the Trump campaign’s pathway to 270. Trump’s best way to win the White House involves retaining all of the solidly red states and then winning Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. This would put him at exactly 270 Electoral College votes, and he would be elected president.
If he loses Florida but retains all of those other states, he’s down to 241.
Trump would need some states to make up for that potential Florida loss, but the problem is that there really aren’t any swing states left. So if he loses Florida, he needs to start winning some states that are leaning towards Hillary Clinton. The states that Trump is targeting as options there are Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia. All of them seem pretty likely to go for Hillary Clinton with the possible exception of Pennsylvania.
But even winning Pennsylvania doesn’t quite make up for the Florida loss; that would only put him at 261, so a loss of Florida means he needs to win back two or three blue states to make up for it. That is an extraordinarily daunting task.
Here are some scenarios where Trump could lose Florida but still win the White House, assuming he retains every other battleground state:
- Trump loses Florida but wins Pennsylvania and Colorado. This puts him at 270.
- Trump loses Florida but wins Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado. This puts him at 276.
- Trump loses Florida but wins Pennsylvania and Virginia. This puts him at 274.
- Trump loses Florida but wins Virginia, Colorado and Michigan. This puts him at 279.
All of these paths are quite unlikely, and indeed, the Donald Trump campaign itself has said that they need Florida in order to win. If Florida is called for Hillary Clinton tonight, that isn’t technically the end of the race, but it might as well be.