US Election: Why the maths adds up for Hillary in the final push for the White House

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a rally at Sanford Civic Center. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik).
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a rally at Sanford Civic Center. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik).
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In Washington, Chris Burn meets one political expert confident that Hillary Clinton will be victorious on November 8.

Hillary Clinton is on course to win a convincing victory in the race for the White House despite narrowing polls, an American political expert has forecast.

John Hudak, a senior fellow at the public policy research organisation Brookings Institution in Washington DC, said a combination of the mathematics of the American electoral system and Donald Trump’s lack of an organised ‘ground game’ to get potential voters to the ballot box point to a Clinton win.

Under the American system, candidates have to win 270 out of the electoral college’s 538 votes.

The system is devised to give states with the highest populations a larger number of electoral votes - California has the highest with 55 with smaller places having as few as three.

If a candidate wins a state, whether by one vote or one million, they are awarded all of that state’s electoral votes in all but two places, Nebraska and Maine.

Mr Hudak said that the number of states considered as safely Democratic means Trump needs to win almost every swing state to have any chance of victory.

He said: “She can lose Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Nevada and still be president. Polling suggests she will also pick up North Carolina which Obama lost in 2012.

“A lot of people on the Republican side argue if it was anyone else but Donald Trump they would be wiping the floor with Hillary Clinton. I’m not convinced of that, largely because of the demographics of the swing states. You prefer to be the side walking into the election needing to win 20 swing states’ electoral votes rather than trying to win 150 of them.”

Mr Hudak said polling may be overestimating Trump’s vote-winning ability by not taking into account the unorthodox way he has run his campaign.

He said that unlike Clinton, Trump lacks the level of local offices and volunteer teams who encourage voters to the polls, helping ensure they cast their ballot even if it takes arranging childcare or driving them to the polling station.

“The Trump campaign does not have a ground operation. You need to target most of your efforts on around a dozen swing states,” he said.

“Ten to 12 normally wind up being competitive - that is where to effectively target message these voters. You have to begin to design and execute that strategy. You need to make sure everyone you need to go to the polls is going to get out. The Trump campaign does not have that all all in some states.”

He said the lack of preparation is likely to be ‘devastating’ for Trump on election day and result in an larger-than-expected victory for Clinton.

Mr Hudak said: “It feeds into this narrative about rigged polls, rigged elections and all the really dangerous rhetoric around this.

“But if the polls appear wrong, it will actually be Donald Trump’s fault not Hillary Clinton. But that will not make sense to the average American voter who votes for Trump.

“It is everything to do with preparedness. It is the equivalent of going into a college exam with one student who has had private lessons and one who had never opened a book.

“Trump has refused to open offices and hire staff. This has been an unprecedented and historic election in a lot of ways.

“One of the most interesting is how traditional the Clinton campaign has been and how unprecedented the Trump operation has been. Until about a month ago, he didn’t have a communications staff.

“His success in business is his brand, he has built a fortune off of that. I think that experience has translated into how he has run a presidential campaign.

“In this case, it is detrimental, maybe for the first time in his life.

“It has shown in just constantly speaking to the same groups. He hasn’t changed or expanded his message. Most fluctuations in polling that you see was Clinton moving up and down. Trump has had a ceiling of 41 to 43 per cent - he wasn’t breaking that.

“She is starting next Tuesday needing 270 votes, she is starting with 256 in the bank. It is hard to imagine how you don’t win. Trump would have to win effectively every swing state with a couple of exceptions. That is a tough ask.

“The only way that changes is some significant shift between now and Election Day - something else with emails or a serious terrorist attack or an economic crises. We are running out of days for that to happen.

“I would call him a long shot. If you were asking any campaign strategist in the country which position would you rather be in, every one would tell you Hillary Clinton.”