The magic number is… 270.

As Election Day approaches, political pundits and commentator are honing in on what the candidates’ campaigns have been doing for over a year – finding a path to the number of electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Most Americans wouldn’t be able to explain the system for electing a president as laid out in the Constitution when pressed in one of those “man-on-the-street” interviews conducted to expose the ignorance of the “average Joe,” possibly responding to a direct question about the electoral college with speculation about its team colors.

Most would be stunned to learn that presidents are not chosen by popular vote in America, but it’s something Al Gore knows.

As the Framers invented the new system of government in 1787, they wrestled with the problem of equalizing the power held by each of the 13 states, settling on a solution that balanced the interests and influence of the north and the south, low population rural states and urban centers with the creation of a system – the Electoral College, which awards votes on a state-by-state basis.

The result has been that certain states have emerged as “battleground,” “swing,” “must-win” states that hold the key to victory.

A state’s electoral college votes is equal to its number of U.S. representatives based on its population plus two – the number of senators each state sends to Washington.

California has the most with 55, Alaska and Wyoming have the fewest with 3.

The total is 538 – 100 senators, 435 representatives plus three from the District of Columbia.

There’s that magic number is 270… one-half, plus one.

So… Donald Trump, though down in most polls, does have a path to 270 if Republicans turn out to vote in the same number as they did in the 2014 “mid-term” election.

The Alliance/ESA poll lays out that path based on a model where Florida and North Carolina vote Trump.

One pothole in that path is the unprecedented failure of Republican leadership to rally around the candidate to motivate voters.

Trump has been rejected by many of the established Republican powers from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), 2012 presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney.

Even former president Republican George H.W. Bush is said to be voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

At this point, high numbers of Republican voters coupled with a low turnout among Democrats who believe Clinton already has the race won, are the surest path for Trump to 1660 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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