Pre-Election State Analysis: North Carolina


Baxter Yarbrough is from Morrilton and a sophomore honors student at the University of Arkansas. He is double majoring in political science and psychology with minors in marketing, legal studies, and social work. Yarbrough is involved in the University of Arkansas’s chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Young Democrats, Pi Sigma Alpha, Rotaract, United Campus Ministries and Resident Interhall Congress. After graduation, Yarbrough hopes to attend graduate school and concurrently receive a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, as part of the two schools’ JD/MPS program.

Whether it was the signing of the highly controversial “Bathroom Bill” by Governor Pat McCrory into law, the fatal shooting of Walter Scott in the spring of 2015, the heavily favored Carolina Panthers losing Super Bowl L, or the recent effects of Hurricane Matthew, North Carolina has certainly been in the news over the past year and a half.  These events aside, North Carolina has once again emerged as an important swing state in the 2016 campaign. I could see either of the two major party candidates winning North Carolina, but I believe that Hillary Clinton will take the state this election.

To understand how North Carolina might swing in the year’s biggest election, it is important to not only analyze just how involved each candidate has been with the state, but study each party’s spending on statewide and local races for public office.  According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, almost $75,000,000 has been put forward by people of the United States toward elections in North Carolina, with twelve of the fifteen most expensive campaigns in the state being headed by a Republican candidate, a good sign of the effectiveness of the GOP’s voter outreach campaign. With Trump himself making nine appearances in the state since August 1st and running mate Mike Pence visiting North Carolina four times, it comes as a surprise that the campaign trails the Clinton/Kaine team by a percentage point as of October 14. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has only made three appearances in the state in the same time frame.

Voters also tend to look at least a little bit into a candidate’s personal life when making their decision of who to vote for, and with the recent release of video footage portraying Donald Trump engaging in what he refers to as “locker room talk,” I have a difficult time seeing undecided voters and women voting for the Republican nominee. With the race in North Carolina being so close at this moment, even a slight dip in female support for Trump could swing the state’s electoral votes to Clinton.

Even with that said, there is a chance that Trump could win the state if he is able to overcome this October surprise. With the pulling out of major businesses, the money being spent in support of local Republican candidates, and the state’s recent history of favoring GOP presidential candidates (excluding Obama’s taking of North Carolina in 2008), there is a present conservative force that has current control of state politics. Trump, however, is not currently able to focus on bringing in new voters due to what has happened in recent weeks.

Prediction: Ultimately, I believe that Hillary Clinton will take the state due to her current ability to go out and gain support from voters who have recently began to have a negative view of Donald Trump. Clinton’s promise of “having [North Carolina’s] back” through the coming months after the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, along with other favorable trends in the campaign, make her the favorite to win the state this November.

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Nevada: A Possible Split Ticket State


Carter Fox is a junior honors student majoring in history and political science with a minor in legal studies. He is from Tulsa, Oklahoma but is a full-fledged Razorback.  Carter is actively involved in Greek Life as well as C3. After graduating, Carter hopes to attend law school.

Going into the 2016 Presidential election, Nevada was assumed to be a strong candidate for a battleground state for several reasons. Chief among them: Obama’s margin of victory decreased substantially in 2012, changing demographics of the population, and a hotly contested senate race for Harry Reid’s seat. However, with recent polling, it seems more likely that the true battle will be over the Senate seat and not the votes of the Electoral College.

Perhaps the greatest reason for Trump’s failure to make significant headway into Nevada is the large influx of Hispanic and Latino voters in Nevada. According to the United States Census Bureau, 28% of Nevada’s population identified as Hispanic or Latino in 2015. This was a 2 percentage point increase from 2010. At the same time, individuals who identified as white decreased from 54.1% to 50.7%. Because of these demographic changes, Trump may struggle to win the state due to his immigration policies and how they would impact the Hispanic community in the United States.

In the newest polls released from the state, Public Policy Polling and Public Opinion Strategies, Clinton holds significant leads over Trump. Interestingly, the two polls taken over the same time offer conflicting viewpoints on the Nevada senate race. Public Policy Polling took a strong stance that Dr. Joe Heck’s recent disavowal of Trump is seriously damaging his credibility with voters, while Public Opinion Strategies states that there is no evidence that the disavowal is hurting him.

Prediction: Overall, I think that Clinton will solidly carry Nevada in November, but I also believe that Dr. Joe Heck will be able to hold off Catherine Cortez-Masto and steal a seat for the GOP in the U.S. Senate, which could have a significant impact on whether or not the Democrats take retake majority control of the Senate this election cycle.


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New Hampshire, More Like Blue Hampshire…amiriteeeee?


Summer Stallbaumer is a sophomore honors economics major at the University of Arkansas. She is an opinion writer for The Arkansas Traveler and a member of the Walton Honors Program.

Demographically New Hampshire is much more intriguing than I thought it would be. It’s not that the actual racial makeup of the state is surprising, with an electorate that is 93.9% white Americans. The thing that surprised me about New Hampshire was the fact that more than 30% of voters this year were either not old enough to vote in 2008, or did not live in New Hampshire.

Of those currently residing in New Hampshire, only 45% are from the state. Compare that to the national average of 68% of people residing in the state in which they were born. The largest source of migrants moving to New Hampshire are from the Boston metropolitan area.

Another demographic change which will affect this upcoming election is the changing life cycles among New Hampshire’s electorate. Between 2008 and 2015, 129,000 New Hampshire citizens turned 18 years of age. Also, New Hampshire lost 68,000 older voters due to mortality.

What is one thing that the Boston metro and 18 year olds have in common? Their political views. Young voters who have recently gained the right to vote and recent migrants to New Hampshire have a very real capability to make New Hampshire a blue state come this November.

Of the last 10 presidential elections New Hampshire has been a red state 5 times and a blue state 5 times. However, of the last 5 presidential elections New Hampshire has been a blue state all but one time.

I believe this is because of New Hampshire’s changing voter demographics. New Hampshire is welcoming migrants from a more consistently liberal area and expanding their Democratic primary voter base with younger voters. Pair this with a shrinking conservative voting base and an incredibly right-wing candidate who may not bode well with a more moderate state.

Prediction: This election may not be easy for any of us, but it’s easy enough to see through New Hampshire’s spotty voting record by simply looking at the facts. New Hampshire will vote blue and their 4 electoral college votes will be awarded to Hillary Clinton. Unless, of course, Donald Trump comes from behind and “grabs” New Hampshire’s political ideologies by the … .

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Colorado is With Her


Hannah Ray is a junior honors student majoring in political science, criminal justice and sociology at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Russellville, Hannah has been actively involved in many student organizations on campus, including the Associated Student Government, Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity, the Pre-Law Society, and Pi Sigma Alpha. After college, Hannah hopes to pursue a law degree and enter the legal field as a corporate attorney.

If you’re still counting on Colorado to remain a swing state in this presidential election, allow me to attempt to soften the blow of Trump’s defeat on November 8th. With Clinton ahead in almost every statewide poll, Colorado has quickly made the transition from being a swing state to leaning towards Hillary. The Real Clear Politics polling average for Colorado as of October 14 has Clinton leading the state by a margin of 7.3 points with 44.3% of the vote, while the other 37% is attributed to Trump.

Given that Colorado’s demographic is predominantly male, white, and middle-aged (35-44 years old), some might find it odd that the Democratic candidate is leading in the polls. However, I believe that these polling results reflect the deep divide within the Grand Old Party (GOP). Due to the recent leak of a video where Trump was seemingly bragging about sexually assaulting women, leaders of the Republican Party have been dropping their endorsements in record magnitude, including several of Colorado’s own GOP leaders. Darryl Glenn, a candidate in Colorado’s upcoming U.S. Senate elections, has suspended his Trump endorsement until Trump agrees to sit down with Glenn to express the true intentions of his heart. To make matters worse, both Colorado Republican Representatives Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner have expressed their desires for Trump to step down from the candidacy. These public statements of opposition encourage the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to unite against Trump, which is why the rising success of Hillary Clinton in Colorado comes as no surprise.

Prediction: If that wasn’t enough to predict Hillary’s Colorado victory with certainty, Nate Silver is sure to add salt to the wounds of avid Trump supporters. According to FiveThirtyEight, the chance of Hillary Clinton winning Colorado’s nine electoral votes has reached an astonishing 85.2% as of October 14. Silver already had Clinton as the favorite to win Colorado coming into October, but her chances have increased since the release of the 2005 Trump tape. While this presidential election has proven to be extremely messy and unpredictable, this trend of the electoral map shifting toward Hillary is going to become more and more prevalent as the days count down to Election Day.

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The Virginian Queen


Darynne Dahlem is logically minded and creatively based. She is a sophomore animal science major and has competed in the Miss America System for three years. This verbal processor loves ice cream and cats and has the ability to quote National Lampoon’s Animal House on a daily basis.

In the last four elections, Virginia has voted for the candidate who has won the Electoral College. However, this state doesn’t necessarily know where its loyalties lie. From 1976 through 2004, Virginia was a red state, but it has shifted over the past two election cycles. Virginia has been considered a swing state that was reliably red since 1952, but in 2008, both Obama and McCain heavily targeted the state and that was the year the colors changed. The year 2008 saw a financial meltdown across the entire nation, but there was also a noticeable change in the demographics of Virginia. These factors working together are what led to the State’s change of party during the 2008 election. That year marked the first time Virginia had voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Prediction: Flash forward to 2016 and Virginia is still looking to favor the Democratic party and it does not look like Trump stands a chance to win this state. The Real Clear Politics poll average running from 9/15/16 until 10/13/16 shows Clinton at 45.6% over Trump’s 38.2%. In the most recent poll done by Emerson College, Clinton was up +5 points.

One major piece of Hillary Clinton’s success in Virginia is due in part to Hillary’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine. If you look at FiveThirtyEight’s predictions of Clinton carrying Virginia over time, you can see the astronomical jump in Hillary’s popularity after the announcement of her running mate at the 2016 Democratic Convention on July 22. The poll tracker shows a jump from a 56.6% chance of winning the state on July 30, to an 87.7% chance of winning on August 9 and her chances over time of winning the state has increased to today’s 90.7% prediction as of October 14. Would Clinton still have become the favorite candidate for Virginia if she had chosen a different running mate? Probably. Would it have been by the same massive margin it is today because of her allegiance with Virginian, Tim Kaine? Who knows! I would assume probably not, but one thing is for sure, Clinton is definitely the Virginian Queen and my predicted winner for the state.

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Is Arizona Turning Purple?


Taylor Pray is a senior honors student double-majoring in political science and journalism with a minor in legal studies at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Taylor has worked on several local and state campaigns and most recently interned with Arkansas’ junior senator. After graduation, Taylor plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public interest law.

Historically, Arizona has not been close to swing state status, unlike perpetual swing states Ohio and Florida. Even in this election cycle, as long-blue Pennsylvania looked as if it could decide the election, Arizona was never considered one of the eleven swing states Politico has identified this fall. When I think of Arizona, I think red – “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio and the now-dead SB 1070 (the controversial Arizona law banning illegal immigrants) come to mind. However, you can now consider Arizona leaning– it’s within the realm of possibility that Hillary Clinton could carry the state in November.

Demographics in Arizona have continued to change since 2012, when Mitt Romney carried the state by 10 percentage points. Certainly, white men and women there trend towards being strongly conservative – that’s Donald Trump’s ideal base. Most notable is the state’s increasingly powerful Latino population – 15.5%. That’s over four points above the national average of the nation’s percentage of voting Latinos.

Additionally, Arizona Senator John McCain withdrew his endorsement for Donald Trump, after the hot-mic story broke nearly a week ago. But McCain, who himself is in the middle of a re-election race, may not hold much influence in Arizona anymore. McCain said that after examining his conscience, it was “impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.” While some applauded this decision, many of Arizona’s conservative voters now say they will not vote for McCain because he shows a lack of loyalty towards the Republican nominee.

Prediction: I predict that Arizona will stay red this November. It’s absolutely possible for Latinos to swing the votes in Arizona, but only if they turn out in larger than usual numbers. Given the revelations about Donald Trump that have dominated the news cycle in the past few weeks and the lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, I don’t think voters will feel nearly as pressured to get out and vote, because they think Trump will lose, regardless of their vote. However, I do think it will be a very close contest in Arizona, completely hinging on who is able to turn out more voters.

With that being said, while I was writing this post late on the afternoon of October 14, Data Orbital released a new poll (conducted Oct. 11-12) that shows Clinton leading Trump in Arizona, 43-42. In a state that’s usually a no-brainer win for most Republican candidates, this year it could truly be up for grabs.

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Georgia Swing State Analysis


Courtney Cooper is a junior honors student majoring in horticulture with agriculture business and sustainability minors at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, Courtney is on the executive board for her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, and active in several campus organizations, including Bumpers Honors Board and the Horticulture Club. After graduating, Courtney plans on entering the Peace Corps before studying local food systems in graduate school.

As one of the 13 original colonies, Georgia has voted in every election except 1864 due to secession. From 1868 to 1960, they voted Democrat in every single election. However, in 1964, due to the Civil Rights Act, Georgia voted Republican (for Goldwater over Johnson). Since then Georgia has consistently voted Republican except for when a Southern Democrat was running (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both received support). Due to a rise in population, Georgia holds 16 electoral votes this year, only outnumbered by 7 states.

Prediction: As history suggests, it seems clear that Georgia will again vote Republican in this election. According to FiveThirtyEight as of October 14th, Donald Trump has a 74% chance of winning Georgia. His lead has been strong by as much as 12 points since his nomination, except for the first week of August when polls had Hillary Clinton in the lead. Trump’s lead did fall significantly after the now infamous tapes with Billy Bush were released but has since recovered and is increasing with every poll.

Most of Trump’s support has come not from influential GOP donors, but instead from individuals spending $250 or less per donation. Many “big-money” donors have held back when endorsing Trump due to his populist rhetoric, attacks on large donors, and trade policies, causing a divide in many Georgia Republicans just as we have seen in the GOP as a whole. However, his recent support over the summer and especially August has paid off – in June alone he saw $280,000 in donations from Georgia compared to Clinton’s $260,000.

Much as we have seen nationally, Trump’s support in Georgia does not come from big businesses, white collar individuals, or prolific Republican super PACs. Instead, the long history of Georgia as a consistently red state combined with his grassroots support from individuals will be what carries him to win the 16 electoral votes that Georgia has to offer.

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Bell-weather Breakdown: Missouri Remains Red


Zana N. English is a fourth-year student majoring in international relations and political science in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and economics within the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Originally from Marianna, Arkansas, Zana is actively involved in a number of activities on campus and holds various leadership roles, most notably in Associated Student Government and Pi Sigma Alpha. After college Zana hopes to pursue a law degree in international law.

There was a time when winning Missouri meant winning the presidency. From 1904 to 2004, Missouri voted for the winner of all but one presidential election (1956 was the exception). However, Missouri’s skills of prediction have been called into question since the 2008 and 2012 election cycles, where Barack Obama won the presidential election without Missouri’s support. In fact, the ten-point margin by which Mitt Romney won in 2012 indicates that Missouri is starting to become more comfortable with being a red state. This election cycle, the “Show Me” state will show the color red to the nation again, but the bigger question is whether it will once again correctly predict the outcome of the national election. And what does that mean for the future of party politics in the state?

Prediction: Since August, Missouri has been firmly set as a Trump stronghold. Even after the first and second presidential debates, and the recent release of the 2005 video showing Donald Trump making disturbing comments about his relationship with women, Trump has averaged an 8.0 lead over Hillary Clinton in Missouri.

Nationwide, however, Clinton has been leading in the polls by as many as 7.0 points. By looking at the party affiliation of the candidates over the past ten presidential election cycles, Missouri has not voted for a Democratic candidate since 1996, when President Bill Clinton defeated Senator Bob Dole. Since then, Missouri has voted strictly Republican. Should Hillary win the election in November, Missouri will lose its status as a bellwether and settle in as a Republican stronghold. With the death of one bellwether state, it will be interesting to see if a new one rises from the ashes and takes Missouri’s place for the 21st century.

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Clinton Looks Like Favorite in Keystone State


Jake Kyte is a senior Honors College Fellow at the University of Arkansas, studying journalism and political science with a concentration in advertising and public relations. Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, Jake is a reporter for The Arkansas Traveler and also works as the editorial director for the U of A chapter of Spoon University.

Trump needs Pennsylvania. Plain and simple. Without it, he has no chance. Unfortunately for him, it’s unlikely. According to FiveThirtyEight’s projection on October 14, Clinton has an 89% chance of carrying Pennsylvania. Using 270ToWin’s interactive map to create a possible scenario, it becomes clear that the state is a must-win for Donald. Take a look below:


Using a combination of polling from FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics to decide a few states currently contested, this map represents a scenario that, first, is unlikely, but second, a dream for Trump. Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, and New Mexico are all swing states drastically in favor of Clinton, and therefore basically a wash for Mr. Trump. However, I’ve given other major swing states, and even ones slightly favoring Clinton, to Trump. Even with Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, and North Carolina, Trump still only gets to 259, tying Clinton.

Pennsylvania on paper seems like a conservative dream. According to U.S. Census data, the state is 82% white, only 28% are college-educated, and almost 20% percent of the population is aged 65 or older. These are huge voting blocks for the conservatives, so it begs the question – why is Trump not polling well there?

I think there are a few key factors. One is very easy to spot – Trump is simply not spending enough in the state. His weak ground game is not able to compete against the almost $1.7 million being spent by Hillary on television ads, according to Bloomberg Politics. In fact, Clinton has outpaced Trump by huge margins in TV ad spending across the country, not just in Pennsylvania.

Prediction: It’s worth noting that it’s not impossible for Trump to win Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania has voted Democrat since 2000, the margins have always been close. If there’s a major slip from the Clinton campaign about the economy or median income workers, Trump could carry the vote. However, I think that Clinton will win the state with no trouble.

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Colin Gonzalez is a second-year student at the University of Arkansas. He is from Mansfield, Texas and is currently working towards degrees in both political science and environmental science. He also serves as the director of public relations for Recyclebacks and deputy to the Associated Student Government treasurer. Upon graduation from the U of A, he plans to attend law school and eventually practice environmental law.

The Salt Lake Tribune said it best, “It is time to get serious.”

The paper operates out of the Mormon state of Utah, a state that has not voted Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. However, on October 12, 2016 the paper endorsed Hillary Clinton to be their presidential nominee. This must be concerning to the Trump campaign because Utah is a state with classic Republican values, the most prominent one being religion. More than half of the state identifies as Mormon with some polls going so far as to say three-quarters of the population identify as such. These demographics should typically lean heavily toward a Republican win in the state.

Religion may not play as large a role in any other state due to the fact that the entire community is so incredibly homogenous. Many of the state’s officials, like Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Mia Love, Rep. Chris Stewart, and Governor Gary Herbert, have all come out condemning Trump and his bid for the presidency. Former Governor Jon Hunstman and Senator Mike Lee publicly called for Trump to drop out of the race. These are some of the most prominent Mormon politicians in the country with the majority of them governing and representing Utahans. So, why is the state so defiantly red?

Deseret News, a newspaper extremely popular among Mormons in the state, published a Y2 Analytics poll which had Trump and Clinton in a tie if the election were held today. The poll also included a conservative independent candidate by the name of Evan McMullin. This former CIA officer placed just under Clinton and Trump, winning 22% of the popular vote in Utah.

Prediction: Despite the popular media and the stance of most political leaders in the state, the majority of polls have Trump safely in the red. FiveThirtyEight has Trump winning with a likelihood of 92.4% in the Polls plus forecast and 77.0% in the Now-cast. While his lead is dropping it is still far too significant for Utah to be considered a swing state. However, if he keeps up his current behavior (all trends lead me to believe he will), then it is his state to lose.

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