Trump’s map: Where he needs to win

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Donald Trump faces an unforgiving electoral map as he seeks to win the White House. 

Yet there is a plausible path to victory for the businessman over likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, if he is able to repair his image among key voting blocs such as Hispanics.

{mosads}Trump’s net favorability rating among Hispanics in a poll from Latino Decisions last month was negative 78 points. He was viewed unfavorably by 87 percent of Latinos and favorably by just 9 percent.

If those figures held until November, Trump would likely need to win around 65 percent of the white vote to prevail. The only election in recent times when any nominee pulled off such a feat was in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.

Here are the states, all won by President Obama in 2012, that Trump would have to target as he seeks to scramble the electoral map and secure the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

The top targets: Ohio (18 electoral votes) and Virginia (13 electoral votes) 

Ohio, the perennial battleground state, could be fertile ground for Trump. His skepticism of free trade deals could resonate in a state where manufacturing jobs have fallen by around 300,000 since the early 1990s.  

Other indicators give Trump hope as well. Only 3 percent of all Buckeye State voters in the 2012 election were Hispanic, according to exit polls. Obama won the state by just 2 percentage points, even with high turnout among black voters. 

Throughout the Republican primary process, Trump has consistently performed much better among voters who do not have college degrees. Ohio ranks 37th in the nation in terms of bachelor’s degrees per capita: 26.6 percent of Ohioan adults over 25 hold that qualification, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau.

Virginia, though not so industrial a state, has several parallels with Ohio. The Hispanic vote-share in 2012 was modest, at 5 percent, and Obama won the state only narrowly, by 3 points. 

Two factors, however, could make Virginia a slightly heavier lift for Trump: The Commonwealth ranks seventh in the nation for bachelor’s degrees, and African-Americans accounted for 20 percent of the votes cast there in 2012, a higher share of the vote than any other state on this list. 

The game changers: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)

Victory in any two of these three states would give Trump a real chance of taking the White House. They are at the heart of his claim that he can expand the electoral map. 

But it will be no easy task. No Republican has won Pennsylvania or Michigan since 1988, nor has the GOP candidate carried Wisconsin since 1984. 

Pennsylvania and Michigan will, along with Ohio, be the focus of Trump’s hopes in the Rust Belt. He will hope to spur white working-class turnout to heights not seen in many years. 

But, even if that happens, will it be enough? Obama won Michigan by 10 points in 2012. Clinton led Trump by 15 points in Pennsylvania in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll last month. 

In Wisconsin, Democratic and organized-labor roots run deep. Whites accounted for a higher share of the 2012 vote there than in most battleground states, at 86 percent. But Romney won those voters only narrowly, 51 to 48 percent. Obama won the state overall by a comfortable 6 points.

The big one: Florida (29 electoral votes) 

If Trump doesn’t make the inroads he wants in the industrial Midwest, a Sunshine State victory could keep the business mogul on track.

The biggest obstacle is simple: 17 percent of voters in Florida in 2012 were Hispanic, and that figure is likely to rise in 2016.  

At one time, the GOP could hope to compete effectively among Hispanics in Florida, in part because Cuban exiles strongly supported the party. But young Hispanics in the state have been moving toward the Democrats. Obama carried Hispanics 60 to 39 percent there in 2012, according to exit polls. 

If Trump were able to rehabilitate his image with Hispanics, there would be reasons for optimism. Obama won the state by just 1 point in 2012. Florida’s status as a favored home for retirees from Trump’s native New York could also help him. 

On Wednesday, Florida Democratic strategist Steve Schale warned his party colleagues not to take a win over Trump in the state for granted, drawing parallels between the businessman and Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is currently in his second term.

The small white hopes: Iowa (Six electoral votes) and New Hampshire (Four electoral votes)

If the election is tight, these states could prove vital, and their lack of diversity could play to Trump’s advantage. Whites cast 93 percent of the total votes in 2012 in both states. And, while the businessman lost the GOP caucuses in Iowa to Ted Cruz, he won resoundingly in the New Hampshire primary. 

On the downside for Trump, Clinton has famously deep political roots in New Hampshire — though Iowa has proven to be more difficult territory for her. Obama carried both states by 6 points in 2012.

A Republican has won each state just once in the last four presidential elections: President George W. Bush won Iowa in 2004 and New Hampshire in 2000.

The outside bets: Colorado (Nine electoral votes) and Nevada (Six electoral votes)

In Nevada, 19 percent of the votes cast came from Hispanics in 2012, and Obama won the state by 5 points. The Hispanic vote-share in Colorado was slightly lower, at 14 percent, but Obama won 3 in every 4 of those votes.

Further complicating the picture for Trump in Colorado, the state ranks third in the nation for college degrees, which are held by 38 percent of the adult population.

If Trump wins either of these states, he will be on course for a landslide. More likely, he will have to find a way to win without them.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz
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