There are a couple states that are almost make-or-break for President Donald Trump on Tuesday, November 3.
One is Florida. Without the Sunshine State, the president has only a few pathways to victory (although a couple do exist). The other make-or-break state is Pennsylvania.
Can the president win the election if he doesn’t win Pennsylvania?
The answer is that, yes, he can, but his opportunities for victory are a lot fewer. Here are the ways that Trump can win the electoral college without winning Pennsylvania. We’ve created our electoral college maps using the customizable map on Real Clear Politics.
Biden is up an average 4% in the Pennsylvania polls, according to Real Clear Politics’ polling average. Of course, the polls were not accurate in 2016, although the election was so close it was basically in the margin of error.
Two recent polls do show Trump in striking distance in Pennsylvania; one by the Republican-aligned pollster Trafalgar shows the race tied, and a poll by Insider Advantage shows Trump up 2. The other polls since that one all show Biden leading. Trafalgar was an outlier in 2016, calling Pennsylvania for Trump.
Biden is polling better than Clinton in Pennsylvania; in 2016, the final RCP polling average in Pennsylvania showed Clinton up 1.9% She would go on to lose the state which became one of a trifecta of rust-belt states (along with Michigan and Wisconsin) that Trump won. According to RCP, in 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by 0.7% and was 2.6% ahead of the polls.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump Wins Wisconsin
If he loses Pennsylvania, Trump can still win if he takes Wisconsin. He can’t lose all three Midwestern states he won in 2016. In this scenario, he would also need the Congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine that voted for him last time but have trended slightly away.
In this map, we also gave Trump pretty much every other contested state.
Thus, you can see the importance of Pennsylvania. Pretty much everything else has to go right for Trump on election day if he loses Pennsylvania, including states like Arizona and Georgia, which have become true battleground states. He would also have to prove the polls wrong – again.
Trump Wins With Michigan
If Trump takes Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, he can stand to lose Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, along with the two Congressional districts.
Victory lies through a path in the Midwest.
It Could Tie
In this scenario, Trump loses Pennsylvania and Michigan. He can still win by prevailing in Wisconsin and Maine’s Congressional District, assuming he wins all of the other key battleground states (like Florida, Arizona, etc.)
Trump would likely win in a tie because the election would be determined by how many states the party controls in the House of Representatives. Republicans control more than 26 states, so they would likely have the votes needed to choose the president, although it would be based on the incoming Congress.
However, the bottom line is that, if Trump loses Pennsylvania, he needs to pick up another Midwestern state – either Wisconsin or Michigan (or a surprise upset in Minnesota) to prevail.