Rep. Chris Collins said Thursday that he believes Donald Trump will still pull off a narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential race, not by the popular vote but by the mechanics of the Electoral College.
Addressing a gathering of the Western New York chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors, the Clarence Republican talked about the political process, the nature of a divided government, and the upcoming election.
He noted that while both candidates have spoken of specific dramatic actions they will take if elected, any new laws must originate not from the president but as bills introduced by lawmakers in either the Senate or the House of Representatives.
And while future control of the Senate and the presidency are still uncertain, the House is unlikely to change hands from Republican to Democratic control because there aren’t enough contested seats that could switch parties, Collins said.
But he also suggested that the outcome of the presidential race could come down to six key undecided states - Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire – and their 78 Electoral College votes. Combined with the states some experts already expect to go to Trump, he said Trump could create a tie at 269 votes by winning all six of those states, throwing the election into the hands of the Republican-controlled House.
The Buffalo News spoke with Collins after his remarks.
What did you think of last night’s debate?
"I thought it was a good debate. I’m pretty much convinced that I don’t think anyone changed their minds. I think the Trump supporters liked what she said. The Hillary supporters liked what she said. I don’t see people changing their votes based on last night’s debate."
"I thought Chris Wallace did a pretty good job, as best you can when you’ve got two pretty independent folks up their with their own agendas."
Did it help undecided voters?
"I don’t think it did. I think at this point, if they’re truly undecided, I don’t think they’re going to vote. When they say they’re undecided, that’s shorthand for “I don’t like either one of them, and how do I move to one or the other.”
"You can’t change the personality or the facts surrounding either one, which is why people don’t like them. I think as a result, most stay home."
"How can anyone be undecided after what all has gone on, on the front page of the paper and the lead stories?"
So will turnout play a big role?
"This is going to be a turnout election."
"I do believe, putting the polls aside, that the Trump supporters are significantly more energized than the Clinton supporters. The Trump supporters are change agents. They say the country is going in the wrong direction, which two-thirds of the public says. They want to go in a different direction. They see Hillary Clinton as the status quo. That’s what they’re rejecting. Putting aside all the scandals that are surrounding her, she is status quo."
"They’re going to vote, I think, with more intensity and more energy than the Clinton supporters. Through WikiLeaks, the Bernie Sanders supporters are pretty disgusted with what’s come out with the Wikileaks email releases, and they don’t like Hillary either. They really despise Donald Trump. But they don’t like Hillary. They don’t like the status quo."
"The turnout model of who votes is going to be the ultimate decider in this election."
Are you still behind Trump and has he addressed the controversies?
"Oh, yeah. I probably exemplify many Trump supporters in saying that status quo is a disservice to this country. Four years of status quo, which Hillary Clinton represents, is not something I would want to be proud of telling my kids that I voted for status quo."
"So I think it comes down to the change agent being Donald Trump is the reason many people are supporting him. Fundamental tax reform, getting the economy moving, standing up on the international stage, securing the international borders. What he stands for, make America great again, is the reason I’m supporting him."
"Most of us have our personality flaws, and Donald certainly has his personality flaws. I will take him at his word when he says some of the accusations are not true."
So, are you pro-Trump or anti-Hillary?
"Since it’s a binary choice, they really merge together."
"Hillary Clinton has totally disqualified herself with her lies. When they talked about WikiLeaks, she doesn’t deny anything that comes out, but just says they shouldn’t have come out. Well, now we know the true Hillary Clinton. She is a despicable human being, and her 30 years of abject failure all but do disqualify her from the position."
"I am attracted to Donald Trump on his tax reform and his trade position. We have to stop the cheating, we have to bring our jobs back, we have to secure our borders. I know Donald Trump will follow through on his top line, saying we got to make America great again."
"I do like Donald Trump’s position. I despise Hillary Clinton as a human being and as a failed politician. You merge those together and that’s why I’m an enthusiastic Trump supporter, looking beyond what I call some personality flaws."
What’s your Election Day prediction?
"I think Trump wins. I believe he will. It’s a very narrow path, but [it's] those six states of Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire."
Will he respect the outcome regardless?
"I certainly wish Mr. Trump hadn’t said what he said, but of course. This is America. Were he to lose, he would accept that, and his supporters would accept that. This is America."