Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

There are just 100 days left until the US election 2016. After months of campaigning we now know that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will succeed Barack Obama in the White House.

But could the unthinkable happen? Could a man who's promised to build a wall along the Mexican border, who has disparaged an entire religion and who uses childish insults against his political insults really win the election?

Could a man who tweets Thomas the Tank Engine memes really become president of the most powerful country on Earth?

Here are a few reasons why he might:

1. It's the economy, stupid

The phrase coined by Bill Clinton's 1992 election strategist is now equally important for his wife. As Politico reports, Hillary will be hoping for a strong economy in the months leading up to the election to convince floating voters that "Donald Trump’s version of a crippled America in rapid decline doesn’t really exist".

Sadly for her, a report this week showed that the economy had grown by a modest 1.2 per cent in the second quarter of the year - falling well short of the 2.6 per cent estimated on Wall Street.

It won't be so easy to make a case for continued Democrat control of the White House when the economy looks like this:

Chart: Bloomberg

2. America's best election forecaster thinks he can

Nate Silver, who runs the website FiveThirtyEight, shot to prominence after correctly predicting the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 2012 presidential election.

The election forecaster believes that had an election been held this week, Trump would have been the favourite:

Who are we to argue?

3. Hillary is deeply unpopular

The Benghazi affair, the email scandal, a perception as a careerist who's been a member of the political establishment for decades. As one New York Times columnist put it, from the outside, the workaholic Clinton appears "Machiavellian, crafty, power-oriented, untrustworthy".

According to recent opinion polls, she's just as unpopular as Trump.

4. He only needs to target a few key swing states

When Americans go to the polls they are actually voting for state electors who make up the electoral college. The college - comprised of 538 representatives, senators and the electors given to the District of Columbia - then nominate their choice for president.

Even if a candidate wins more votes in the election (as Al Gore did in 2000), they won't become president without a majority of electoral college votes.

As the Upshot details here, that means Trump could target key swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

5. Sanders and the disaffected

Is it possible that those who supported the left-wing anti-establishment Bernie Sanders could be tempted to vote for the right-wing (supposedly) anti-establishment Trump? That millions of working-class Americans, much like their British counterparts did with Brexit, will stick one to the establishment and what they see as a broken political system?

As director Michael Moore explained in a recent blog post, there is also the Jesse Ventura effect - named after the wrestler who became the governor of Minnesota against all odds.

As Moore explains:

Do not discount the electorate’s ability to be mischievous or underestimate how any millions fancy themselves as closet anarchists once they draw the curtain and are all alone in the voting booth. It’s one of the few places left in society where there are no security cameras, no listening devices, no spouses, no kids, no boss, no cops, there’s not even a friggin’ time limit. You can take as long as you need in there and no one can make you do anything.

You can push the button and vote a straight party line, or you can write in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. There are no rules. And because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can.

It could happen.

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