Sunday, November 6, 2016
The following is the sixth and final edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.
In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the Free & Equal Foundation holds a presidential debate with three little-known candidates; three additional candidates give their final pleas to voters; and past Wikinews interviewees provide their electoral predictions ahead of the November 8 election.
As October started, Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton led Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump in the RealClearPolitics head-to-head average 47.4% to 44.7%. In the four way race, Clinton led Trump 43.7% to 41.1% with Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson at 7.0% and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein at 2.3%. The politics of polling became a campaign issue as national polls fluctuated throughout the month with some showing as high as a 12 point lead for Clinton and others with Trump in the lead. In statewide polling, in a rarity for independent presidential candidates, Evan McMullin, who named political consultant Mindy Finn of Texas as his running mate in October, took the lead in his home-state of Utah in an Emerson poll. As Election Day, November 8, drew near, early voting began in multiple states in October. RealClearPolitics declared Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Iowa as toss-up states.
October was a month of surprises. As Trump continued to refuse to release his tax returns, on the first of the month, The New York Times published Trump’s 1995 returns sent to them from an anonymous source. The returns showed Trump had declared a US$916 million loss in 1995, allowing him to shield $50 million in taxable income per year for the next 18 years for the purposes of federal income tax. Clinton speculated Trump did not paid any federal income taxes during the period. She asked, “What kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year?” In a statement, the Trump campaign claimed The Times illegally obtained the record and accused it of being “an extension of the Clinton Campaign.” Going further, the statement said Trump had a “fiduciary responsibility […] to pay no more tax than legally required.” Trump later argued he had “brilliantly” taken advantage of tax laws. A day after the publication, political operative Roger Stone warned of another WikiLeaks release of documents related to Clinton. As observers awaited the release, Trump running mate Mike Pence and Clinton running mate Tim Kaine participated in the vice presidential debate. According to AP analysis, Kaine spoke in an aggressive manner and often interrupted Pence, who remained relatively calm throughout. A CNN poll of debate watchers declared Pence the winner, 48% to 42%. Days later, still without any WikiLeaks release, Trump supporters began to wonder if any release was pending or whether an outside entity influenced WikiLeaks director Julian Assange not to release the documents. A statement from the United States Intelligence Community claimed, with confidence, that documents released on WikiLeaks were the result of hacks by the Russian government. On October 7, as Trump took some time off from campaigning to prepare for the October 9 debate, the WikiLeaks release did occur, but a different leak had a greater impact. The Washington Post set off a political firestorm as it released leaked video of Trump from 2005 speaking with Billy Bush, then a presenter for Access Hollywood, about how Trump kisses women without waiting and “grab[s] them by the pussy,” explaining he can get away with it because he is famous. In response, the Trump campaign immediately put out a release calling the comments “locker room banter,” claiming former President Bill Clinton said “far worse” while playing golf with Trump, and apologizing “if anyone was offended.” Hillary Clinton sent out a tweet calling the comments “horrific” and argued the American people “cannot allow his man to be president.” Many Republicans, including some supporters, denounced Trump. Pence was “beside himself” according to the Associated Press. House Speaker Paul Ryan disinvited Trump from a joint campaign appearance. Two dozen Republican officeholders including Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona, and Rob Portman of Ohio, unendorsed Trump. Some prominent Republicans called on Trump to withdraw from the race. At the end of the tumultuous day, Trump released a taped message, again apologizing for his “foolish” 2005 comments while arguing “there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people.” He accused Bill Clinton of having “actually abused women” and Hillary Clinton of “bull[ying], attack[ing], sham[ing], and intimidat[ing]” these same women. Trump promised further discussion on the topic and affirmed his participation in the upcoming debate. The next day, he told The Wall Street Journal he would never quit the race. Pence told donors he would remain on the ticket as well. According to a Morning Consult poll, only 12% of Republicans felt Trump should withdraw. Media coverage of the tape overshadowed the WikiLeaks release of hacked e-mails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which included transcripts of paid speeches Clinton gave. Controversial parts included Clinton admitting to having both a private and public position on issues and describing her “dream” of a “hemispheric common market [in North America], with open trade and open borders.”
Just prior to the October 9 debate, Trump held a press conference with Kathy Shelton, a rape victim whose alleged rapist was defended by Hillary Clinton, as well as Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey, who have each accused Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety. At the event, alluding to the 2005 tape, Broaddrick commented, “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me.” The Clinton campaign referred to the press conference as a “stunt.” As the candidates took the stage for the debate, they forewent the customary handshake. During the debate, organized as a town hall moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, Trump proclaimed he had not done any of the things he mentioned in the leaked tape. Clinton attempted to connect Trump to Russia and claimed Trump lived in an “alternative reality.” Trump referred to Clinton as “the devil” and said she has “tremendous hate in her heart.” He called for a renewed criminal investigation into her handling of classified information. After Clinton remarked, “it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country”, Trump quipped, “Because you’d be in jail.” Clinton addressed the content of her paid speeches, arguing her statement about having both private and public positions referred to Abraham Lincoln. Trump responded, “she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln […] Honest Abe never lied […] That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.” Trump openly disagreed with his running mate Pence, arguing the US military should not target the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Near the end of the debate, audience member Ken Bone asked a question about energy policy. Bone’s attire and demeanor turned him into an instant online viral sensation. For the final question, an audience member asked each candidate to say something nice about the other. Clinton praised Trump for his family, while Trump praised Clinton as a “fighter.” The two shook hands at the conclusion. Although opinion polls scored the debate as a victory for Clinton, according to Politics1.com, Clinton was “not as sharp” and Trump had a “much better night” likely enough to end the repeated calls from GOP officials for him to leave the race. A 22-member focus group hosted by Fox News pollster Frank Luntz scored the debate for Trump, 16 to 6, leading Luntz to conclude, “Tonight was so significant that [Trump] is back in the race.” Pence also declared Trump the winner and tweeted congratulations. The tweet served as an affirmation Pence would remain on the ticket. As Trump returned to the campaign trail, he renewed attacks against the GOP establishment, including Speaker Ryan, for its tepid support. He accused the establishment of involvement in a “sinister deal” to hurt his campaign. Politico reported the RNC had spent no money on TV advertisements for Trump. Nevertheless, as the media focus shifted away from the leaked 2005 tape, several officeholders who had just un-endorsed Trump, re-endorsed his candidacy. Moreover, his support among GOP members increased from 74% before the debate to 89% afterwards. WikiLeaks continued an incremental release of Podesta e-mails while simultaneously, women came forward accusing Trump of sexual misconduct. The New York Times published a story in which two women accused Trump of inappropriate touching. Trump threatened to sue the paper. He accused Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, a Times shareholder, of being behind the story to hurt his campaign due to Trump’s proposals related to Mexico. Additional women came forward accusing Trump of unwelcome kissing, groping, and sexual advances. Trump denied all the claims, at times insinuated his accusers were too unattractive for him to assault, and vowed to sue each accuser after the election. He referred to his accusers as pawns of globalist special interests and political elites, and claimed “This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!” As Trump and his supporters continued to describe the election as rigged, President Barack Obama chimed in, saying Trump “seems to be in middle of the game making excuses for why he might be losing”. On October 16, the campaign took a violent turn as a GOP office in North Carolina was firebombed. Trump claimed the story would have received more attention if it was a Democratic Party office. As WikiLeaks continued to release Podesta e-mails, the nation of Ecuador shut off Julian Assange’s internet access at his residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The nation claimed it did this to avoid interference with the US presidential election. WikiLeaks vowed to continue releasing documents. According to a new WikiLeaks e-mail dump, DNC interim chair Donna Brazile forwarded at least one question for a CNN town hall to the Clinton campaign ahead of the event during the primary campaign. Brazile denied sending the message. Conservative group Project Veritas joined in surprise releases, publishing undercover video allegedly of a Democratic Party operative discussing the use of individuals to disrupt Trump rallies and claiming the Clinton campaign was aware of the efforts.
As the October 19 debate approached, Trump questioned the fairness of the election process, the legitimacy of opinion polls, and asked supporters to “forget the press, read the internet.” To the final debate, he invited President Obama’s half-brother Malik Obama, who had endorsed Trump, as well as Patricia Smith, mother of diplomat Sean Smith who died in the 2012 Benghazi attack. She had previously spoken at the Republican National Convention. Clinton invited businesswoman Meg Whitman, billionaire Mark Cuban, and former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, all of whom had endorsed Clinton. The third and final debate took place in Las Vegas and was moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace. As in the second debate, there was no handshake between the candidates before. Unlike the second, there was no handshake afterward. During the debate, Trump stated he would appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court and that the likely result would be the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Clinton countered she would nominate justices to uphold Roe. Trump received criticism for referring to illegal immigrants as “bad hombres.” After Trump spoke about having a closer relationship with Russia, Clinton implied Trump was a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin to which Trump repeatedly interrupted, “No. You’re the puppet!” Trump referred to the Clinton Foundation as a “criminal enterprise” and accused Clinton of encouraging violence at his rallies based on the Project Veritas video. His most controversial comments came when he refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election and near the close of the debate when he interrupted Clinton to refer to her as “such a nasty woman.” The “nasty woman” comment became a rallying call for Clinton supporters with Senator Elizabeth Warren later commenting, “We nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get [Trump] out of our lives forever”. According to CNN’s poll, Clinton won the debate 52% to 39%. However, according to CNN’s 15 member focus group, Trump won 10 to 5. Frank Luntz’s focus group likewise showed Trump winning, by a margin of 14 to 12. A day after the debate, Trump held a rally and announced “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.” He and Clinton both attended the traditional Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner with Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan seated between them. Although the event was meant to feature lighthearted and often self-deprecating statements from the candidates, Trump received boos when the crowd felt he was too harsh on Clinton. Nevertheless, Clinton and Trump shook hands at the conclusion. Back on the campaign trail, Trump began using the phrase “Drain the Swamp” to describe the defeat of the establishment in Washington, D.C. In an October 22 speech in Gettysburg, he laid out a plan for the first 100 days of his administration and unveiled a “Contract for the American Voter,” which included such policy proposals as a Constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress, a federal employee hiring freeze, and a ban on fundraising by foreign lobbyists in US elections. He received his first major newspaper endorsement from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by billionaire Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson. For the Clinton campaign, surrogates such as First Lady Michelle Obama, President Obama, and Bernie Sanders traveled about to spread the campaign’s message; entertainers such as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez also played a role. As most opinion polls continued to show Clinton ahead of Trump, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway admitted the campaign was behind and that Clinton “has tremendous advantages.” Meanwhile, Trump began arguing Democrats were creating “phony polls” to suppress the turnout of his supporters. He also argued the media was ignoring polls such as those from Rasmussen Reports and the Los Angeles Times, which regularly showed him tied or slightly ahead of Clinton. Still, he acknowledged, “I guess I’m somewhat behind in the polls, but not by much.” As October drew to a close, three additional surprises threatened to change the course of the election. First, Obamacare rates were announced to be rising significantly for 2017 throughout the nation; over 50% in some states and by an average of 25% nationally. One in five users would have only one plan from which to choose. Second, more revelations from WikiLeaks including a release showing how an adviser used President Bill Clinton’s status, what he referred to as “Bill Clinton, Inc.,” to secure donations to the Clinton Foundation from certain corporations as well as speaking fees, traveling expenses, and vacations in exchange for access, leading to accusations of pay-to-play. Third, FBI director James Comey wrote a letter to certain Congressional committee chairs stating the FBI discovered new evidence and was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. According to reports, the relevant e-mails were discovered on a device of former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who was under investigation for sexting with an under-aged girl. Weiner allegedly shared the device with his wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton. The Clinton campaign demanded to see the evidence. Senator Harry Reid argued Comey’s letter may have violated the Hatch Act and accused the FBI of not releasing information about connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Commenting on the matter, Trump said, “Clinton’s corruption on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” Clinton said, “No matter what they throw at us these last few days, we’re not going to back down.” In the RealClearPolitics average for October 31, Clinton led Trump 48.0% to 44.9% in the head-to-head matchup, but her lead dwindled in the four-way race, 45.6% to 42.7% with Johnson at 4.7% and Stein at 2.1%.
Free & Equal Debate
On October 25, the Free & Equal Elections Foundation held a debate on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, moderated by actor Ed Asner and Free & Equal founder Christina Tobin. This was the organization’s third election cycle hosting a presidential debate. Constitution Party presidential nominee Darrell Castle, Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential nominee Gloria La Riva, and Reform Party presidential nominee Rocky De La Fuente all took part in the near two-hour event. Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Evan McMullin were each invited but did not attend.
“Shame on Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in particular for not coming”, said Castle, reflecting the overall feeling of the three debaters. La Riva described the absences as “a lack of respect for those of us who have fought so hard in this electoral year to have a voice for the people.”
Although major party candidates have never participated in the event and are barred from doing so by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the absence of Johnson was controversial. Reportedly, Stein and McMullin did not attend because of Johnson’s absence. Johnson, who participated in the same debate in 2012 along with Stein, was said by Tobin to be concerned about appearing credible to the media.
“They are so high and mighty. They want to be Democrats and Republicans so badly,” proclaimed Castle about Johnson and Stein, “They are afraid to come out and get down on the same level with people like us.”
The Libertarian and Green Party presidential nominees also skipped the first Free & Equal Debate in 2008. Then-Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr missed the debate because of a previously scheduled event. Then-Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney was absent because Free & Equal did not consult with her before scheduling the event. That year, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Constitution Party presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin were the only participants.
Castle, who served as Baldwin’s 2008 running mate, previously participated in a Free & Equal vice presidential debate that year, a fact he brought up in his opening statement. Notably, throughout the debate, Castle repeatedly expressed astonishment when he agreed with his “socialist friend” La Riva. However, on the first topic, there was disagreement regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. While Castle, who said he would generally support such a pipeline, argued Dakota Access did not cross the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, La Riva rebutted the proposed route crosses lands the US government took from the Sioux. Moreover, she said the proposed route crosses the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers opening the possibility for contamination. Later in the debate, La Riva and Castle differed substantially on health care. While Castle called for a capitalistic solution, La Riva countered that capitalism was the reason for the health care crisis.
La Riva, who was her party’s presidential nominee in 2008 and was a stand-in in some states in 2012 due to the constitutional ineligibility of the party’s official nominee Peta Lindsay, did not previously qualify for the Free & Equal debate. In 2012, Free & Equal extended invitations only to those candidates who reached 1% in any “neutral” national poll. In addition to Johnson and Stein, this included then-Constitution Party presidential nominee Virgil Goode and then-Justice Party presidential nominee Rocky Anderson. This year, Free & Equal lowered its inclusion standard to those with ballot access to at least 15% of the electorate. La Riva met this standard. In the debate, she passionately argued in favor of socialism, endorsing an “economic, social, and political revolution,” which entails sharing “all the wealth that the people create” and “changing the economic system of capitalism to a socialist one; to a people’s democracy.” De La Fuente said he agreed with La Riva in terms of health care, arguing for fixes to Obamacare and ultimately the implementation of socialized medicine.
De La Fuente, whom Wikinews interviewed earlier this year, previously ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. During the debate, he touted himself as the “first Hispanic-American to be on the ballot in 20 states.” In focusing on minority issues, he discussed the disproportionate incarceration of minorities for marijuana offenses. Asner, who often commented during the course of the debate, wondered whether the discrepancy was the result of economic rather than racial factors. De La Fuente argued it might be contributed to by both.
On other issues, the candidates had spirited discussion. While addressing the treatment of whistleblowers such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, Castle referred to each as a hero and said he would offer a pardon as president. La Riva called for the elimination of the NSA, FBI, and CIA, characterizing these organizations as enemies of the American people. On the issue of military adventurism, all candidates agreed the U.S. should remove its forces from the Middle East. After Asner brought up President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address, warning of the military–industrial complex, Castle discussed how President John F. Kennedy heeded the warning and came up with policies of his own, which he felt ultimately led to Kennedy’s undoing. However, Castle was quick to say he does not subscribe to conspiracy theories. Each candidate expressed opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA, though De La Fuente and Castle each acknowledged the necessity of free trade. On the issue of campaign finance reform, Castle proposed giving $50 million to each of the candidates on the basis of ballot access. De La Fuente said he had not considered Castle’s proposal, but “it makes a lot of sense.” He mentioned his Democratic Party run and accused the party of “building walls” to prevent outsiders like himself from gaining traction. He also claimed the party cheated Senator Bernie Sanders out of the nomination. Near the end of the debate, a student from the University of Colorado asked a question about student debt. La Riva called for free education and in absence of that, proposed a student strike to demand debt-free education. Castle said the debt crisis was the result of government interference into education, saying loans would not be made if government did not guaranty them. He proposed use of bankruptcy law to alleviate the debt. De La Fuente proposed a “virtual reality university” using experts from around the world to teach subjects online to Americans for free, arguing Americans, and particularly minorities, lack the time to attend a four-year university.
Unlike Asner, Tobin did not comment much as moderator, but she chimed in on the issue of ballot access. Tobin explained how she received an inquiry regarding ballot access for former Senator Jim Webb, who ran as a Democrat and was considering an independent run for president in 2016. She discovered it would take 900,000 signatures to achieve full ballot access, requiring the collection of 1.6 million signatures with lower range costs of US$7 to US$10 million and high estimates of up to US$20 million. In response, each candidate discussed their experiences with ballot access restrictions. La Riva proposed parties be able to qualify for nationwide ballot access.
Some lighthearted moments included Asner forgetting Castle’s first name, De La Fuente questioning whether an interjection from Asner would count against his time, and Castle upon reaching the end of his time, commenting on the “relentless pressure of this woman [presumably the timekeeper] on the front row [to] stop me.”
In closing, De La Fuente called his two fellow debaters “presidential” and said he “would be proud for them to be my president, and not those two, dumb and dumber, [the major party candidates] who are trying to go for the job.” Asner expressed appreciation to each participant, and declared the candidates “gave this election dignity.”
Ballot Access per debater
With Darrell Castle, Gloria La Riva, and Rocky De La Fuente making their case to voters at the Free & Equal debate, Wikinews provided an opportunity to other presidential candidates who were not invited.
Those making their final pleas include: America’s Party nominee Tom Hoefling (who asked to use the same statement he made as a final plea as his party’s nominee in 2012); Socialist Party USA and Natural Law Party presidential nominee Mimi Soltysik, and former Thompson Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania Tax Assessor James Hedges, nominee of the Prohibition Party.
Ballot access maps for each of the three candidates appear above their respective statements.
Tom Hoefling (America’s Party)
“Without faith there can be no justice. The two things are inextricably linked.
“What is justice? To put it most simply, it is right-doing. In terms of the law and self-government, it is doing right to all persons equally and equitably.
“But how can we possibly perfect justice in this country, as the framers of our Constitution purposed to do, if we pay no mind to the laws of nature and of nature’s God? It is not possible.
“Is there a desire in your heart to help save this country and restore America’s greatness? Then trust God, seek His will, and do right. Join together with your fellow citizens who are of the same mind and heart, and retake the reins of your own self-government. If enough Americans will do this, without compromise, and do it in time, there is hope for this country and for our posterity. We can, if we choose to follow God and do right, once again be a shining city on a hill.
“But if we refuse, and choose instead to be faithless and unjust by continuing to kill the babies and destroy God’s institution of marriage and the natural family, our children and grandchildren, those who survive our brutal savagery, will curse us. They will rightfully convict us of squandering their precious heritage, one that was dearly bought with blood, sweat, and tears by our just and faithful forebears.
“Our generation is a link in the chain between the past and the future. Please, my fellow Americans, I beg you, don’t let it be broken. Strengthen the things that remain, before it is too late.”
Mimi Soltysik (Socialist Party USA)
“Let the election be a reminder that no candidate will be able to provide the solutions to problems that are systemic. The effort to see the public focus on individuals is a con, a diversion. Please — don’t fall for it. We aren’t saying don’t vote. What we are saying is that, if we are to see substantive change — the kinds of changes that are going to deliver peace — the people are going to lead the way. We can’t vote peace into office. The capitalist system is inherently racist, sexist, exploitative, and oppressive. An individual can’t change that. However, candidates need you [to] buy into the diversion to make sure they either maintain power or that they are elected into a position of power. Once the public starts focusing on the system, it’s essentially a game over scenario for those who profit off of exploitation and oppression.”
James Hedges (Prohibition Party)
“If these two sleaze-balls are the best America has to offer, Heaven help the USA! Please send the major parties that message by voting for third-party candidates.
“If you live in one of the three states where the Prohibition Party is on the ballot, we would appreciate your choosing us. The Prohibition Party, America’s oldest minor party, is the only party basing its platform on what is best for families and local communities. Our candidates, Jim Hedges (president) and Bill Bayes (vice-president), both have military backgrounds. They both support public education. They both believe in small government and local control. They practice decency and humility in their daily walks; neither has financial or personal baggage such as calls into question the integrity of the major-party candidates.
“Yes, ‘Make America Great Again’ by repudiating Trump and Clinton”
This month, Wikinews asked recent interviewees to predict the results of the 2016 presidential election. Political consultant Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research; author and blogger Darryl Perry, a write-in candidate for president; and author and historian Darcy Richardson, a former candidate for the Reform Party presidential nomination; all weighed in with their predictions.
“With the caveat that pollsters hate predicting the future (haha), right now I’d say that Clinton carries every state that Obama carried in 2012, plus North Carolina and Arizona. Trump will carry the rest, except Utah, which Evan McMullin will narrowly win.”
“I think the map from FiveThirtyEight.com will be mostly accurate. . . I know they’re almost always correct. There may be a state or two that go in a different direction, but I’m not confident enough to say what state(s) will go to whom.”
“Coupled with the fact that a vast majority of the electorate believes the country is headed in the wrong direction, the 2016 presidential campaign will be a resounding reaction to America’s tragic economic decline over the past three decades, if not longer. This long overdue reaction, borne of anger and frustration, will surprise only the pundits. To a certain extent, in fact, the results will be a sweeping repudiation of the mainstream media itself.
“Defying conventional wisdom and the preponderance of the national polls, I think Donald Trump will emerge victorious on Nov. 8th, amassing approximately 62.5 million votes to Hillary Clinton’s 59 million. With the exception of North Carolina (where the Democrats arguably have their strongest GOTV [get out to vote] effort), I think Trump will win all of the states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012, plus Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, giving the Republican nominee 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 248.”