Many many people, well intended, smart people, keep talking about the rout, the landslide, that will happen. They may be basing this on the new trend started by FiveThirtyEight and picked up by the New York Times and others of deriving a probability statement about the race. But when you see something like “87%” for Clinton in such an estimate, that does not mean that Clinton will get 87% of the votes. It means that it is very likely that Clinton will get 270 or more electoral votes. There is, for example, a zero chance that Clinton will get a single electoral electoral from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, either Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia or Indiana.
There are versions of this election where the Virgin Mary descends form heaven on a Unicorn and causes Trump to lose in Texas, Georgia, a few other states that he is not going to lose in, and then there are tossup states.
A great outcome for Clinton is winning all the tossups, including New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, Arizona, Nevada, etc. But there is no version of the election in which she wins even one of the 108 electoral votes found among the afore mentioned states.
Now, the total number of electoral votes that Trump can not possibly lose is just over 100. The total number of electoral votes that Clinton can’t possibly lose is just under 200 (including, I think, Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, DC). Either candidate losing any of those states involves the Virgin Mary on the Unicorn. If you make any map of any kind with those states in place, as specified, per candidate, then nether candidate can win by a true landslide.
And we know what a true landslide is because there have been many of them. A very conservative estimate of Trump’s electoral take would be about 147 votes. The lowest actual estimate I’ve seen is, I think, 153. Very few put him below the 170s, and these all assume that he’ll get more, but with many states left in limbo. In other words, Trump losing badly gives him something like 25% to 30% of the electoral votes.
There have been 56 elections.
10 elections have been won by 90% or more of the electoral vote. The were won by George Washington, James Monroe, FDR, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. The weakest of those was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and this is what his map looked like:
28 of the elections were won by 70% or more. The weakest of those was Bill Clinton in 1996. This is what that year looked like:
Hillary Clinton’s electoral map is going to look a lot more like Bill Clinton’s map, and that is not a rout.
There have been many landslides in recent years. Reagan and Nixon as mentioned (Reagan twice), Johnson and Roosevelt as mentioned. Even Wilson, 1912, with just over 80% of the electoral vote looks like a rout on the map:
A major victory for Clinton will be taking all of the major swing states, and one or two of the formerly red states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, any Deep South state, Texas, or Utah. Any one of them. Plus the swing states (esp. Ohio and Florida, both, as well as Pennsylvania). That will feel like a rout, a landslide. But it won’t be.