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How Trump could lose popular vote and tie or win electoral college



President Donald Trump won the electoral college despite losing the popular vote in 2016, and there are multiple possible scenarios by which he could so again in 2020.

In on plausible scenario based on recent trends and outlined by The Cook Political Report election analyst Dave Wasserman, Trump could lose the popular vote by around 5 million votes but still win the electoral college by one vote for a result of 270-268.

Wasserman said this scenario could play out if Democrats expand their vote margins in California and Texas — two states in which Democrats flipped control of multiple House seats in 2018 — and win back Pennsylvania and Michigan, states carried by Trump in 2016.

Since Trump’s election, Democrats flipped two suburban House seats and the governor’s office in Michigan in 2018. Democrats also pulled off a major upset in a 2017 congressional special election in Pennsylvania, while holding both the governorship and Sen. Bob Casey Jr.’s seat by comfortable margins in 2018.

But even if Democrats won back those states, Wasserman said Trump could narrowly win the electoral college vote by replicating his 2016 wins in Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Florida.

He added that Florida is “trending poorly” for Democrats and named North Carolina and Arizona, the latter of which is a formerly safe red state where Democrats flipped both a House and a Senate seat in 2018 — as more realistic targets to flip in 2020.

Read more: Trump says he thinks his base is so strong that he doesn’t have to reach out to swing voters

For the past several decades, Florida has been a quintessential swing state, with Republicans carrying the state in 2000 and 2004. President Barack Obama won Florida by extremely narrow margins in 2008 and 2012, while Trump won the state by just over one point in 2016.

In 2018, Democrats flipped control of two seats in South Florida. But when it came to statewide elections, Florida voted Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson out of office in favor of outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, who they also replaced with Republican Ron DeSantis.

Every state rewards its electoral votes on a “winner take all” basis, giving all its votes to the candidate who clears above 50% of the vote, except two — Maine and Nebraska — who award their respective four and five electoral college votes proportional to the vote share in their state.

For Trump to win re-election by one electoral college vote in the situation Wasserman outlined, Trump would need to repeat his 2016 performance in Maine by winning one of the state’s four electoral college votes, as visualized in the map below INSIDER created on

But if the Democratic presidential nominee carried all of Maine’s electoral college votes — also a plausible scenario given that Democrats flipped one of the state’s two House seats and the governor’s office in 2018 — the electoral college vote would be tied 269-269, leaving the election up to the House of Representatives to decide the election.

Now 17 months out from the general election, the Trump campaign is building up a war chest of campaign money, investing in their digital strategy, and beefing up their outreach to communities of color in important swing states, Trump and his campaign advisers recently told TIME about their re-election strategy.

Read more:

On day one of his 2020 campaign, Trump promised to cure cancer, wipe out AIDS, and put an American on Mars

Trump’s approval rating is underwater in 8 major 2020 battleground states, and it’s a troubling sign for his reelection prospects

The leading newspaper in Orlando, where Trump is kicking off his 2020 campaign, made its 2020 endorsement: ‘Not Donald Trump’

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