This post has been updated.
Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and he did it by completely blowing up the electoral map and all of our projections and expectations of it.
- Trump won his “must-win” states of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina in races that were called on Tuesday night.
- He won his other apparent “must-win” state, blue-leaning swing state Pennsylvania, which was called for Trump early Wednesday morning.
- Not stopping there, he won at least one and possibly two states in which he didn't even campaign until the final week of the 2016 election: Michigan and Wisconsin. These, like Pennsylvania, are states that have long eluded the GOP's grasp and didn't seem likely to be winnable for Trump.
All of this disproves the idea, which we and everyone else have espoused early and often, that Trump's path to victory was narrow. It wasn't. It was broad. We were wrong. The polls were wrong. We fundamentally misunderstood this election. We thought Hillary Clinton might be winning red states. But Donald Trump won blue states.
It was looking like he had to win Florida, Ohio and probably both Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He won all four, but he didn't even need to. Trump's win in Wisconsin and apparent victory in Michigan (where he leads but the AP hasn't made a call) are just the icing on the cake at this point. It looks like the electoral college won't even be close.
Tuesday morning, we ranked four possible Trump paths to victory, with each of them going through Florida and Ohio at a minimum. Giving Trump Michigan or Wisconsin was the least likely of the four outcomes, and we assumed only one of them might flip. It was considered unlikely, but worth entertaining.
But if you gave Trump either Michigan or Wisconsin, getting to 270 was much easier. And indeed, as they came on to the board Tuesday night, Trump's odds of winning the presidency skyrocketed. He suddenly didn't need to win Pennsylvania anymore. He just had to add Florida, Ohio, North Carolina (all three of which are now won) and Iowa and Michigan to win. If he took Wisconsin rather than Michigan, he'd need to add either New Hampshire to get over the top, but that's looking increasingly very doable.
Trump won all of his “must-win” states, anyway, and then added some states that we barely gave him a chance in, proving that everything we thought we knew about the polls and the electoral map was wrong. Wrong, wrong wrong.
Here's where we currently stand, without even including Michigan as a likely Trump win. Trump is at 276 electoral votes; Clinton is at 218.
And here are those maps we thought were very optimistic for Trump, but actually undersold his romp:
Florida + Ohio + North Carolina + Iowa + Wisconsin + New Hampshire = 273 electoral votes
Florida + Ohio + North Carolina + Iowa + Michigan = 275 electoral votes
The idea that Trump was a big underdog was prefaced upon the idea that states like Michigan and Wisconsin weren't truly on the table. They were. But he apparently didn't even need them.