CNN anchor Carol Costello was shocked into silence by political analyst Larry Sabato when he quoted the Center for Politics’ recent findings: presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will get 352 Electoral College votes on election day.
“We now have Hillary Clinton at her peak for the year, at 352 electoral votes,” he told CNN on air, and his prediction isn’t one to be cast aside lightly. Sabato’s online newsletter, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, has been long established as a trusted source of news analytics.
“What, wait, 352?” Costello stuttered. “OK, you’ve just stunned me into silence.” CNN has Clinton ahead at 307, but Sabato’s research team has shot that figure through the roof.
The number might have stunned many viewers of the CNN segment that night, but it’s not unbelievable. In the 2008 election, Obama won 365 Electoral College votes.
To further confirm his data, Sabato tells us Clinton will win in Arizona and even Utah.
To understand why these numbers struck a pause with the CNN news anchors, let’s look at the Electoral College, the system of voting in America right now. U.S. states tytpicall fall into two categories: “red” or “blue”. This refers to their historical position as either swinging to the right side of the political spectrum (i.e. Republican), or to the left (Democrat). This difference is important because it’s the state’s chosen side that affects how the final vote will turn out.
Each state’s electors are equal to their number of Representatives in the House plus two (for the Senators). (Except Washington, D.C., which gets three.) That totals 538 Electoral College votes altogether. To win, a candidate needs 270. Now you can see why 352 is so important for Clinton.
Utah and Arizona each have a portion of their votes that could swing towards Clinton, which is why Sabato is so optimistic. Should events happen as he predicts, Costello won’t be the only news anchor at a loss for words.