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If Trump Wins, Here’s How The Map Might Look

Things are not going well for Donald Trump’s campaign, as FiveThirtyEight’s forecast shows. In the space of a single day (Tuesday), we published articles saying multiple top pollsters expect him to lose the election, that Hillary Clinton might try to play for a landslide, and that Trump might even lose Texas.

And yet, as of midday on Monday, the FiveThirtyEight polls-only forecast model still showed that Trump had a 11.4 percent chance of winning. (It’s currently at around 13 percent.) This means that, after our model runs 10,000 simulations of the electoral map with the latest poll data, Trump won in about 1,140 simulations (1,137 to be specific).

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What do those victory maps look like? What is Donald Trump’s pathway to the White House, electorally speaking?

My colleague Jay Boice was kind enough to send over the model output from a run on Monday, so I dove in and looked at the 1,137 of 10,000 runs where Trump pulled off a clean electoral win. Here are the swing states that he won most often:

STATE ELECTORAL VOTES PERCENT OF WINNING MAPS
Ohio 18 96%
Arizona 11 96
Iowa 6 95
Florida 29 90
North Carolina 15 88
Nevada 6 80
New Hampshire 4 64
Colorado 9 59
Minnesota 10 59
Wisconsin 10 59
Pennsylvania 20 56
Michigan 16 47
When Trump wins, he wins with these swing states

Data based on 10,000 runs of FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model

There are six states — Ohio, Arizona, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada — that appear on at least 80 percent of Trump’s victory maps. It’s very, very difficult to imagine a win for Trump if he doesn’t win all of these: A Trump win without Ohio occurs less than 1 percent of the time in the model simulations, and a win without Nevada only about 2 percent of the time. There are six more states that appear on around half or more of the victory maps, and these are a bit interesting: Minnesota appears more often than Pennsylvania, but in fairness Pennsylvania is rather definitively far out of Trump’s reach, whereas there is more uncertainty in Minnesota given slightly scanter polling.

That means he would have to win every state shaded red on this map, and then at least one of the other unshaded states to put him over 270.

What is interesting about this batch of states is which ones flip when others do. I built a conditional probability matrix out of the 1,137 simulations. In a simulation where Trump has a winning map and wins in Michigan, he also won in Minnesota 75 percent of the time, Wisconsin 84 percent of the time, and Ohio every time. If he wins and won Virginia in doing so, he almost certainly won North Carolina.

IF TRUMP
WINS…
THEN HIS CHANCE OF WINNING…
MI VA MN WI CO NH PA NV NC FL OH
Michigan 100% 40% 75% 84% 60% 71% 61% 87% 85% 88% >99%
Virginia 45 100 69 59 77 72 68 76 95 94 94
Minnesota 59 49 100 72 66 72 65 81 88 87 99
Wisconsin 67 42 72 100 62 73 60 85 85 88 99
Colorado 47 54 66 62 100 73 58 85 88 91 95
NH 52 47 66 67 67 100 58 83 87 92 96
Pennsylvania 51 51 69 63 61 66 100 77 91 87 97
Nevada 51 40 60 63 63 67 54 100 87 91 97
NC 45 46 59 57 59 64 58 79 100 90 97
Florida 46 44 57 58 60 65 54 80 87 100 96
Ohio 48 41 60 60 58 64 56 80 88 90 100
In maps favorable to Trump, the probability that he wins one swing state if he wins another

Data based on 10,000 runs of FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model

Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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