Since the beginning of this campaign I’ve had a simple theory about this race: namely, that the Democratic Party’s significant demographic advantage among non-white voters along with Donald Trump’s alienating effect on female voters would ensure a Hillary Clinton victory.
If early voting results are any indication, this seems to be exactly how the 2016 campaign will play out. In Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Arizona there’s been an evident surge in Hispanic voting. Women appear to be voting at a larger clip than men. The third wild card that we likely won’t know about until Election Day is Republican defections from Trump — and whether he is able to win over as many Republican registered voters as Clinton can win over Democratic registered voters. And when you factor in the Democrats’ electoral map advantage and it’s far superior ground game things are lining up well for Clinton.
So based on what we’ve seen so far — and what we know about the electorate — here are my predictions for how things play out Tuesday.
• Hillary Clinton is a solid bet to win 322 electoral votes. The three wild cards are Arizona, Ohio, and Iowa. Trump has had a slight advantage in Ohio for much of the campaign, though the lastest poll by the Columbus Dispatch shows Clinton up 1 percent. Initial early voting seemed to suggest the GOP was outpacing Democrats, though the numbers have shifted back in recent days. In the end, I give the nod to the candidate with the better ground game and that’s Clinton. Arizona has also had a slight Trump lead, but I’m going to ride the Hispanic surge. Iowa looks like a done deal for Trump, especially with the final Des Moines Register poll giving him a 7-point lead. The early vote numbers offer more hope for Clinton. Democrats are showing a 42,000 advantage, which is less than the approximately 60,000 vote advantage they had in 2012 when Obama won by 6 points. I think Trump is likely going to win here, but I’ve been bullish on Clinton’s chances from the beginning so I might as stick with it and give her the Hawkeye State. So that adds up to 358 electoral votes for Clinton.
• Trump’s narrowest wins will come in Georgia, Utah, and Texas. As for a surprise pick that no one will see coming — how about Alaska?
• Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote will be closer to Obama in 2008 than Obama in 2012. In fact, she will either match or top Obama’s popular margin over McCain in 2008 of 7.2 points.
• Democrats pick up 5 seats in the Senate: Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and retain the seat in Nevada. Missouri is the one wild card here and I’ll give the advantage to the incumbent Republican, Roy Blunt, but won’t be surprised at all if Kander pulls it out. In Indiana, I think Even Bayh loses; in Florida, Marco Rubio wins.
• Democrats will win 15 to 20 seats in the House and the final number will likely be closer to 20 than 15.
• Clinton wins a higher percentage of the African-American vote than Obama in 2012.
• Trump will win less than 20 percent of the Hispanic vote.
• Trump’s closest approximation to Romney’s numbers from 2012 will be among white working class men. While Romney won white voters by 20 points; Trump will do 5-7 points worse. But he will win white voters overall.
• Clinton will win a larger percentage of Democratic voters than Trump wins of Republican voters. Assume 90 percent plus for Clinton and somewhere around 85-90 percent for Trump.
• Clinton will narrowly win college-educated whites and dominate among college-educated women. She will win women voters by a significantly larger margin than Obama.
• Clinton will do better in North Carolina and Florida than she does in Iowa and Ohio. These two states, plus Arizona, Texas, and Georgia will become the new battleground states in 2020.
Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter@speechboy71.