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States That Donald Trump Needs to Win in Order to Win the Election

Donald Trump rally, Donald Trump Raleigh rally, Donald Trump north carolina rally

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Getty)

Heading into Election Day 2016, the Donald Trump campaign has a very specific path to 270 Electoral College votes. In order to win the election, Trump must win nearly every single battleground state and retain every state that Mitt Romney won in 2012 as well. Plus, there are a few states that Trump is hoping to flip from blue to red. So what exactly are the states that Trump needs to win if he hopes to become president?

First, there are 21 states that Donald Trump will win essentially by default. These are the states that traditionally always vote for the Republican candidate, and they add up to 163 Electoral College votes. If Hillary Clinton were to somewhat win in just one of these states, it would be a complete shock. The states are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Then there are two states that usually vote for the Republican candidate but where Hillary Clinton has actually been somewhat close in the polls. Still, it seems likely that these states will stay red as they have been for a long time, but it’s necessary for Trump to defend himself here if he wants to win the election. Those states are:

  • Arizona
  • Georgia

If we add these two states to Donald Trump’s column, plus all the traditionally red states, the Republican nominee is now at 190 Electoral College votes. He needs 80 more votes to become president.

What remains are six battleground states that could realistically be won by either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Those battlegrounds are:

  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Maine’s 2nd Congressional District
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio

All of these states add up to 80 Electoral College votes, meaning that if Trump wins all of the states we have mentioned so far, he hits 270 electors exactly, and he becomes the next president of the United States.

The state that Donald Trump absolutely must win in order to be elected president is Florida. Technically Trump can win without it, but the path would become so narrow as a result that it’s almost impossible to imagine Hillary Clinton not winning if she turns Florida blue. If Florida is called for Hillary Clinton on the evening of November 8th, you can essentially consider this the announcement that Hillary Clinton has won the presidency. Florida is worth 29 Electoral College votes.

Really, though, Trump does not have much wiggle room, and so basically all of the six battleground states – plus one battleground district – are must wins for him.

Because the aforementioned path is so narrow, the Trump campaign is also looking at a fourth category, states that are leaning towards Hillary Clinton and that traditionally vote blue but that Trump hopes he can turn red. Winning any one of these would dramatically increase his odds of victory, as they would give him some room to lose another battleground state but still win the election. Winning any of them would also start eating into Hillary Clinton’s path rather than simply forging Donald Trump’s. Those blue states, accompanied by the lead Hillary Clinton currently has in the polls according to Real Clear Politics, are:

  • Colorado (Clinton +3)
  • Michigan (Clinton +5)
  • Minnesota (Clinton +6.4)
  • Pennsylvania (Clinton +2.8)
  • Virginia (Clinton +4.3)
  • Wisconsin (Clinton +6.5)

To summarize, with each of the battlegrounds (Florida, Iowa, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio) losing one means Trump must make up for it by winning a combination of blue states (Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin) . If Trump loses a single battleground but does not compensate for it with a victory in a blue state, Hillary Clinton wins the election. And if Trump loses two battleground states, that will be almost impossible to recover from.

With that in mind, here are a few scenarios, albeit somewhat unlikely scenarios, where Trump could recover from the loss in a battleground state.

  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for New Hampshire
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Colorado, bringing him to 275
    • Trump wins Michigan, bringing him to 282
    • Trump wins Minnesota, bringing him to 276
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bringing him to 286
    • Trump wins Virginia, bringing him to 279
    • Trump wins Wisconsin, bringing him to 276
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for Nevada
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Colorado, bringing him to 273
    • Trump wins Michigan, bringing him to 280
    • Trump wins Minnesota, bringing him to 274
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bringing him to 284
    • Trump wins Wisconsin, bringing him to 274
    • Trump wins Virginia, bringing him to 277
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for North Carolina…
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bringing him to 275
    • Trump wins Minnesota and Colorado, bringing him to 274
    • Trump wins Michigan, bringing him to 271
    • Trump wins Virginia and Colorado, bringing him to 277
    • Trump wins Virginia and Wisconsin, bringing him to 278
    • Trump wins Wisconsin and Colorado, bringing him to 274
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for Ohio…
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Michigan and Colorado, bringing him to 277
    • Trump wins Minnesota and Colorado, bringing him to 271
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bring him to 272
    • Trump wins Virginia and Colorado, bringing him to 274
    • Trump wins Wisconsin and Michigan, bringing him to 278
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for Florida…
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin, bringing him to 270
    • Trump wins Colorado, Michigan and Wisconsin, bringing him to 276
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania and Virginia, bringing him to 274
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for Iowa…
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Colorado, bringing him to 273
    • Trump wins Michigan, bringing him to 280
    • Trump wins Minnesota, bringing him to 274
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bringing him to 284
    • Trump wins Virginia, bringing him to 277
    • Trump wins Wisconsin, bringing him to 274
  • If Trump wins all the battlegrounds except for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District…
    • Trump loses, or…
    • Trump wins Colorado, bringing him to 278
    • Trump wins Michigan, bringing him to 285
    • Trump wins Minnesota, bringing him to 279
    • Trump wins Pennsylvania, bringing him to 289
    • Trump wins Virginia, bringing him to 282
    • Trump wins Wisconsin, bringing him to 279

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9 comments

  1. Reported by the Washington Post & Huffington Post
    Over the weekend, Trump had a disabled kid in a wheelchair thrown out of his rally, for holding a Clinton sign. The kid, who has cerebral palsy, asked his mother to bring him to the rally so he could protest Trump’s disparagement of the disabled. As the kid was wheeled out, people booed at him, kicked his chair & yelled obscenities at him. Trump verbally encouraged the crowd, pointed at the kid, shouting, “Get him out of here!”.

    This election is too unpredictable & too important to not vote or to waste a vote on a 3rd party. If we don’t vote for Clinton, we risk another election of 2000 scenario. Except Trump is more cruel, more ignorant & more dangerous than Bush ever was, for reasons that have been well documented. Please listen to the experts. Please Vote Clinton/Kaine 2016 if you want Obama’s legacy to continue, and if you want sanity rather than chaos to rule our government for the next 4 years.

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