Election predictors: What to watch for on Tuesday

Nov. 7, 2016: Even with a presidential election campaign that's been anything but normal, experts believe we can still know the results of the race based on East Coast battleground states, one bellwether polling place and voter turnout.

In an effort to cut through the partisan clutter as this presidential campaign comes to a close, we're zeroing in on a couple key indicators that offer a hint about how the election will break both locally and nationally on Tuesday.

The short list: East coast battleground states, voter turnout and one bellwether polling place in Knoxville.

East Coast Battleground

University of Tennessee Professor Anthony Nownes said he will be watching New Hampshire, North Carolina and Florida carefully to predict how the rest of the election will go. 

"If you see an indication that Hillary Clinton is going to win North Carolina, then it's pretty much over for Donald Trump. He has five or six must-win states. She really only has one or two," said Nownes. 

He said, on the other hand, if you see Trump holding strong in those states, it could be well into the night before we know a winner. Nownes said a handful of states will decide this election.

"Like most years, most states are in the bag for one candidate or another. Including this one [Tennessee]," he said, "No one gives Hillary Clinton any serious chance of winning this state. And really there's only a handful of states depending on what polls you look at that could realistically go either way. Those are the states you need to look at to see who's going to win."

That can be attributed to the Electoral College. The number of electoral votes for each state depends on population. Most states are winner take all.

Nownes adds it's important to pay attention to the number of electoral votes a state has, not the number of states that a candidate wins. Tennessee has 11 electoral votes.

"Just looking at the blue or the red on the map is a bit misleading," he said.

Voter Turnout

"The cliché is the higher turnout benefits Democrats and that's because the core voters in the Democratic party vote at lower rates than core voters for Republicans," said Nownes.

Nownes said that will not impact a solidly red state like Tennessee in the presidential election.

"Trump has such a commanding lead here instead of winning by eight, in a high turnout election he wins by five or six [percentage points]," he said.

But, he said, high voter turnout could make a big difference in local races like State House District 13. Democrat Gloria Johnson is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Eddie Smith.

Bellwether Polling Place

Local politicos will watch Knox County Polling Place 16, the Larry Cox Senior Center, to predict the District 13 race.

Knox County Election Commissioner Cliff Rogers is expecting 200,000 voters total in Knox County. Nearly 140,000 have already voted early or through absentee ballot.

"We'll release the early voting totals first that will give us a good indication how things are going here in Knox county. It'll be 8:30, quarter until 9 p.m.," Rogers said.

He doesn't think we'll see the long lines at the polls like we did in March for the primary. The ballot is much shorter and so many people have early voted.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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