A Fun Bet On The Presidential Election
The number almost everyone will watch on Election Day is 270, as in the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Coworkers Nick DeLeeuw and Joe Becsey will have their eyes on another number: 150.
With expectations of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton winning decisively over Republican Donald Trump, Mr. DeLeeuw and Mr. Becsey, who work for the Resch Strategies firm, decided to spice things up with a bet, not over who would win, but whether Mr. Trump could even manage 150 electoral votes.
Mr. DeLeeuw proclaimed Mr. Trump would fall short of 150 electoral votes, which would be the worst performance by a major party candidate since 1988 when Democrat Michael Dukakis won just 111. Mr. Becsey, seeing a virtual lock on having Mr. DeLeeuw buy him lunch at the Lansing eatery of his choice (that’s what the winner gets), was all too happy to take the side of Mr. Trump hitting that meager 150 electoral vote threshold.
This bet was made many months ago. And at the time, it seemed Mr. DeLeeuw had little to no shot.
Ms. Clinton could win every traditional swing state, plus all the solid Democratic states, plus the congressional district in the Omaha region of Nebraska and she would have 348 electoral votes to 190 for Mr. Trump. In other words, even a very strong Clinton performance would still mean victory for Mr. Bescey and a lunch on Mr. DeLeeuw’s tab.
Even as Mr. Trump faltered after the conventions, this dynamic never really changed.
And in September, when Mr. Trump pulled almost even in national polls and the swing states began to tighten, it began to look like Mr. Becsey was not even going to break a sweat on election night with Mr. Trump passing 200, maybe even 250 electoral votes.
Now, however, with the three debates concluded and the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” video featuring Mr. Trump boasting about groping women "by the p---y,” the pendulum has shifted, and some once unthinkable results in longtime blood red states are becoming possible.
Arizona has gotten shaky and by all accounts is a tossup. Losing it would drop Mr. Trump to 179 electoral votes. The independent Evan McMullin could win Utah, whose heavily Mormon population has recoiled from Mr. Trump. If that happens, Mr. Trump falls to 173.
Mr. Trump has a small lead in Georgia. A Clinton victory there would drop Mr. Trump to 157 electoral votes.
Now is when the path gets really difficult for Mr. DeLeeuw.
Mr. DeLeeuw had once pointed to Missouri, its 10 electoral votes and onetime penchant as a bellwether, but that increasingly seems off the table and firmly in Mr. Trump’s possession.
The best scenario for Mr. DeLeeuw probably involves Texas. If Ms. Clinton somehow pulls off what most would have said was impossible – winning this longtime Republican bastion – then Mr. Trump falls to just 119 electoral votes and even flipping Iowa, where Mr. Trump is ahead, and Ohio, which is a dead heat, away from Ms. Clinton would still leave him short of 150 electoral votes with just 143.
Or Mr. DeLeeuw would need Ms. Clinton to hold onto Iowa and Ohio, and win a state like South Carolina, dropping Mr. Trump to 148, or a combination of states like Mississippi and Idaho, causing him to fall to 147 (Idaho almost surely would never vote for Ms. Clinton, but Mr. McMullin could have a shot there). Mississippi, with its large African-American voting population, and Idaho, with a large Mormon population, would be reaches but are getting at least a little attention.
So there you have it. If Mr. DeLeeuw is going to enjoy lunch on Mr. Becsey’s dime at The Creole, Soup Spoon Café, Meat, DeLuca’s or some other outstanding Lansing eatery, it’s going to come down to states like Texas, South Carolina, Idaho and Mississippi.
Now, if it wasn’t already clear, you know why Mr. Becsey was more than happy to take that bet.Back to top