For weeks, Donald Trump has been emailing potential donors saying he has a path to victory Tuesday.
The email includes a map, highlighting states the Republican presidential candidate must win.
It starts with Florida.
While many voters will cast ballots Tuesday, U.S. presidents are not elected by popular vote. Instead, they are elected by winning 270 electoral votes, awarded to states based on the combined number of U.S. senators and representatives those states have.
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Some states really are not in doubt. South Carolina, for instance, has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1976, and polls suggest the state is “likely” to go Republican again Tuesday, giving Trump its nine electoral votes.
Other states – California, for instance – predictably are Democratic, and polls suggest will give their electoral votes to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In Clinton’s case, California — where the Democrat leads by 22 points, according to Real Clear Politics’ average of polls — will give her 55 electoral votes.
When the electoral votes from the states where there is a firm leader are awarded, Clinton leads Trump by 216-164.
That lead for Clinton reflects the GOP’s weakness in large, diverse states – California, New York and Illinois, to name a few. Winning just those three states gives the Democratic nominee 104 of the 270 electoral votes needed for election.
The GOP nominee can count only one mega-state – Texas, with its 38 electoral votes – as reliably Republican.
That leaves the GOP nominee needing to do well – very well – in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and, surprisingly this year, Georgia.
Based on polling, there are 13 toss-up states that will decide the election, according to Real Clear, starting with Florida.
Of 52 polls taken since June, Clinton has led in 35 and Trump in 13. Four were ties.
As his email says, Trump must take Florida. If he can do that – and win Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and add one electoral vote from Maine – he will have 270 electoral votes and be the next president.
Likely? No. But possible.
Of its 13 toss-up states, Real Clear projects Trump will win seven and part of another – Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, and one vote in Maine.
Real Clear projects that Clinton will win Colorado, three electoral votes in Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and ... Florida.
Trump will finish 241 electoral votes, Real Clear projects, and Clinton with 297.
The difference? Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
Statistician Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight projects Clinton to win 292-246, giving her a 64 percent to 65 percent chance of winning.
States to watch
These toss-up states have 158 total electoral votes:
Florida — 29. Clinton leads by a percentage point, Real Clear Politics says.
Ohio — 18. Trump leads by 2.8 points, RCP says.
Michigan — 16. Clinton leads by 4.7 points, RCP says. But that lead may be shrinking.
Pennsylvania — 20. Clinton leads by 2.4 points, RCP says.
New Hampshire — 4. Trump leads by 1.6 points, RCP says.
Maine — 3. Clinton leads by 4.5 points, RCP says. But that lead may be shrinking.
North Carolina — 15. Trump leads by 1.5 points, RCP says.
Georgia — 16. Trump leads by 4.6 points, RCP says. But that lead may have evaporated, and Clinton could win the state.
Colorado — 9. Clinton leads by 2.9 points, RCP says.
Nevada — 6. Trump leads by 2 points, RCP says.
New Mexico — 5. Clinton leads by 4 points, RCP says.
Arizona — 11. Trump leads by 4 points, RCP says.
Iowa — 6. Trump leads by 3 points, RCP says.
Leans Clinton: 48 electoral votes
Virginia, 13; Wisconsin, 10; Minnesota, 10; Oregon; 7; Connecticut, 7; Maine, 1st District, 1
Likely Clinton: 53 electoral votes
Illinois, 20; New Jersey, 14; Washington, 12; Rhode Island, 4; Delaware, 3
Solid Clinton: 115 electoral votes
Massachusetts, 11; New York, 29; California, 55; District of Columbia, 3; Hawaii, 4; Maryland, 10; Vermont, 3
Leans Trump: 9 electoral votes
Likely Trump: 92 electoral votes
Indiana, 11; Texas, 38: Missouri, 10; Utah, 6; Montana, 3; South Dakota, 3; Tennessee, 11; Alaska, 3; Kansas, 6; Nebraska, 2nd District, 1
Solid Trump: 63 electoral votes
Louisiana, 8; Mississippi, 6; Alabama, 9; Arkansas, 6; Kentucky, 8; Idaho, 4; Nebraska, 4; North Dakota, 3; Oklahoma, 7; West Virginia, 5; Wyoming, 3
The presidential race, with 270 electoral votes needed to win
Real Clear Politics
U.S. Senate projections
Republicans now hold a 54-46 majority, but contests Tuesday could change that.
Real Clear Politics
Republicans: 52 seats, picking up a seat in Nevada
Democrats: 48 seats, picking up seats in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin
Republicans: 50 seats. The GOP has a fighting chance of winning two other seats – in Nevada (45 percent chance) and New Hampshire (49.8 percent chance).
Democrats: 50 seats, picking up seats in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin and New Hampshire and Nevada. Democrats have three long-shot chances of winning a Senate majority, according to FiveThirtyEight: Missouri (42 percent chance), Indiana (37 percent chance) and North Carolina (28 percent chance).