Election Projection: This may be the shortest election night in American history. 1

The networks and the big web sites have refrained from calling elections until the polls close on the West Coast but, this year, there is such a clear demarcation between the strengths of the major candidates that the result will become obvious very early on….unless no one reports any results until all the polls close.

RealClearPolitics currently shows Clinton with 260 probable electoral votes, and Donald Trump with 170. Ergo, Trump needs 100 electoral college votes from the undecided states to win.

Clinton needs 10.

There are 108 votes still up for grabs.

Most of the Eastern Time Zone states close their polls at 8 PM. New York, with its 29 electoral votes, closes at 9 PM.

There are five “toss-up” states in the Eastern Time Zone, currently listed as Maine (4), Ohio (18), Indiana (11) , North Carolina (15) and Florida (29).

Donald Trump needs 100 Electoral Votes from the toss-up states. There are 108 votes available in the toss-up states.

In order to have any chance of winning the election, Trump must win Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Florida. If he loses any of those four states, what happens after that won’t matter because he won’t be able to pick up enough votes to win the election.

This assumes, of course, that the Blue States will all stay Blue and the Red States will all stay Red. The current polling numbers make it clear that this is the most likely scenario. Here is the current polling data from RealClearPolitics on these four states:

east-coast-toss-up-statesIf Clinton actually wins any of these four states, the election is for all intents and purposes over, and Clinton currently leads in three out of the four.

Let’s assume, however, that, by some miracle or demonic intervention, Trump wins all four of these states. Let’s be even more generous and give Trump all four of Maine’s electoral votes. That would give him 77 of the 100 votes he needs to win, but that leaves only 31 votes in the grab bag of unaccounted for toss-up votes, of which he needs 23 to win.

In this case, attention will then turn to the two toss-up states in the Central Time Zone, Minnesota (10) and Iowa (6).

Right now, RCP has Clinton over Trump by 44.3 to 40 in Minnesota. Trump is ahead of Clinton in Iowa by 41.7 to 38. If Clinton wins Minnesota, and Trump takes Iowa, that would reduce Trump’s magic number to 17 but there would only be 17 electoral college votes left in the grab bag, which means that Trump would have to win both of the remaining toss-up states, Nevada (6) and Arizona (11).

Right now, RCP has Clinton as a 45.5 to 41.3 winner in Nevada, but Arizona is in a virtual dead heat, with 41.4 for Clinton and 41.2 for Trump.

While it seems highly unlikely that the Trump campaign will survive past 9 PM when New York reports its 29 electoral votes for Clinton, if some kind of national madness descends on us, and Trump runs the table, picking up all of the toss-up states until he gets to Nevada, he still faces one final dilemma:

Donald Trump is a lousy gambler. I used to be a professional gambler myself, back in my misspent youth, and I have played a few hands of poker against Trump….and he’s a shitty player. He forgets to ante, often stands pat when he should draw, and draws cards when he should stand pat….and, if you think about it, that describes his entire campaign. He just doesn’t know when to hold them and when to fold them, as the old song goes. He also draws to inside straights, something I learned not to do on my daddy’s knee. (Daddy ran numbers for Bugsy Siegel, so he knew whereof he spoke.)

Here’s the thing. Friends of mine in Vegas who didn’t take the pledge I took never to gamble again tell me that the betting is running at better than 4 to 1 for Clinton, with Maxim Lott and John Stossel (yes, that John Stossel, the conservative-libertarian reporter) reporting Hillary as the 83.7% favorite over Donald Trump. None of the books I consulted had Trump winning, either in Nevada or in the nation as a whole.

So, if it gets as far as Nevada, the bookies have a vested interest in making sure that Clinton wins because a Trump payout would hurt them where it hurts most…..in the cash register.

But there’s this funny story going around that I heard from several different friends. Late last night, after the debate, this big, fat old guy wearing a trench coat, dark glasses, and a fedora over his scraggly bleached blond hair was seen snuffling around from one casino to another, trailed by a group of uncomfortable looking government employees, visiting the sports books and putting down sizable bets on Clinton to win.

He’s gonna win all right, no matter what it takes.

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