FINAL ELECTION UPDATE: It All Comes Down to This

11/8/2016 by Dylan James Harper

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Well, we’re almost done. The last two weeks have proven interesting as ever, featuring a Clinton free fall, and maybe a slight weekend resurgence. Trump has wisely kept himself out of the headlines, but by all accounts hasn’t put much more effort into his ground game. Will that cost him on election day? Or will he complete the weirdest comeback in the weirdest election in history? Let’s break down the final few days before the election.

The Clinton/FBI Saga Ends… For Now:

The FBI’s well timed release of an email story (that ultimately had little to do with Clinton herself), timed with the media’s desperation to present the election as closer than it seemed, caused a wave of headlines featuring words like “Clinton” “email” “FBI” and, worst of all, “Anthony Weiner.” This sent Clinton into a free fall that placed her from “all but sure thing” to “wow, Trump might actually pull this out.” On Sunday, the FBI revealed that it had ultimately concluded that there was in fact no reason to bring charges against Clinton, and that the email investigation was over. It seems as if she’s stabilized over the weekend thus far, but her firewall is still in a precarious position with a close New Hampshire sure to be a deciding factor.

Trump’s Relative Silence:

It took almost the entire election, but he finally learned to shut up. With Clinton finally getting hit over the head with and headlines, Trump did nothing to interrupt that. This has put him in position to comeback if he can win some key states.

Outcome Possibilities:

Clinton wins comfortably - Clinton wins Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, plus all the states she was supposed to win, and has an easy path to 270+.

Clinton sneaks by (most likely scenario) - Clinton loses Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina, but her firewall maintains (New Hampshire stays blue), and she gets just around 270 electoral votes.

Trump sneaks by - Trump wins Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina, and breaks through the firewall in New Hampshire, giving him a close electoral vote win.

Trump wins comfortably (least likely scenario) - Trump wins Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, and breaks through the firewall in New Hampshire, and upsets in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Virginia, giving him an easy electoral win.

Remind me how the electoral college works?

The popular vote in each state decides how the state casts it’s electoral votes for president. A president must get 270 electoral votes in order to win the presidency.

What happens if neither candidate gets 270

The house of representatives (which is currently controlled by the GOP) decides the election, and likely votes in Trump.

What if someone gets 270 electoral votes and wins the electoral college, but doesn’t win the popular vote?

They lose. This has happened before, in 2000 when Bush lost the popular vote but won the presidency over Gore.

I remember that, wasn’t their a Supreme Court Decision involved?

Yes there was. Bush v. Gore essentially decided the election by ruling in favor of Bush.

Could that happen again?

Yes it could. It’s important to keep in mind, if Hillary (for example) loses the electoral college, but wins the popular vote, she can’t legally challenge the electoral college. What she CAN do, however, is legally challenge minute voting procedures. This was the case in Florida in 2000 where the lawsuit that eventually worked its way up to the Supreme Court was based on the validity of the infamous “hanging chads” that Florida used in the election.

How would the Supreme Court rule if that happened?

It’s important to note the steps here, because any challenge wouldn’t go directly to the supreme court. First, it would go to the district court. That decision would be appealed by the losing side, and it would go to the Circuit Court. That decision would be appealed by the losing side, and then and only then, would it go to the Supreme Court.

Okay, and how would they rule?

Well, remember that time Scalia died and the GOP refused to let President Obama pick a replacement? Yeah, the Supreme Court has a vacancy right now, which means that any decision could, and almost certainly would, end in a four to four tie. Sure does make that decision by republicans to block Obama’s nomination seem worth all the political capital they leveraged to do so.

That’s absurd. What happens then?

It would go back to the Circuit Court and that ruling would stand.

What does that mean?

Well, it depends on what Circuit Court you’re talking about here. There are thirteen Circuit Courts and they are generally well respected, but there is definitely partisanship among their ranks.

Thirteen Circuit Courts?

Yes, but since any election challenge could only occur in a relevant state (a state with enough electoral votes to be the deciding factor), that means it eliminates the federal courts, and the Washington DC court. Thus, we’re actually talking about eleven courts.

Alright, and how do those eleven courts look?

Well, even then, a lot of those courts would never fall into play. The 5th Circuit Court, for example, is states like Texas and Louisiana, which aren’t close.

Well, which courts would be relevant?

The three big ones are the 1st (which has New Hampshire in it), the 4th (which has North Carolina in it), the 6th (which has Ohio in it), the 9th (which has Nevada in it), and the 11th (which has Florida in it).

Of those, the 1st and 9th tend to lean to the left, the 4th and 11th lean slightly to the right, and the 6th leans hard to the right.

So, just so we’re clear, if neither candidate gets to 270, the House of Representatives (which is controlled by the GOP) decide the election. Or, if one candidate wins the popular vote, and another wins the electoral college, a Circuit Court could decide the election?

Isn’t democracy grand? It took a very patient and thoughtful law dork to help me wrap my head around all this, but yeah, that’s how it all shakes out.

Are either of those actually going to happen?

Probably not.

So what’s your final prediction?

Unless something drastic changes in the next several hours, it seems like Clinton will sneak out a close victory in the electoral college and win the popular vote.

But no matter what happens, you can read about the aftermath right here!


Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic

Read more of Dylan's work at

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