Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pols and Polls: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Summary for Oct 25. Clinton maintains a healthy lead in the polls both in popular votes (in some polls double digits) and electoral college votes (over 300 vs. under 200 for Trump). Nate Silver's 538 model gives Clinton an 85% chance of winning but he admits her chances might be better. (HuffPollster makes it 96.6%.) Moreover, her support among her own supporters is increasing. Democratic control of Senate is looking good (69% chance of 50-50 or better) but control of the House is not (yet) within Dems' reach.

FORECAST UPDATE from the HuffPollster - "Hillary Clinton has a 96.6 percent chance of winning the presidency. Republicans’ chances of keeping the Senate majority are declining ― they’re down to a 30 percent chance of getting 51 or more seats, Democrats have a 35 percent chance of getting 51 or more seats and there’s a 35 percent chance that the chamber will be split 50-50. Accounting for Clinton’s 96 percent chance of winning the presidency, which would make Tim Kaine vice president and the tie-breaking vote , that becomes a 69 percent chance of Democrats taking over. [Senate forecast, Presidential forecast]"

Trump's chances approaching zero - Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post's "The Fix" see Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero. "We are making three changes to The Fix map this week, all favoring Hillary Clinton ... First, we are moving Nevada, where Trump had shown surprising strength for much of this year, from "toss up" to "lean Democratic" amid signs that the state is slipping away from him. ... We're also moving Utah — yes, Utah! — from "lean Republican" to "toss up" ... and ... much to our amazement — we are adding Texas to our list of competitive states, rating it as "lean Republican."" At present, they predict 323 electoral votes for Clinton and 180 for Trump.

Trump is losing but continues to lie about it. Greg Sargent writing at the Plum Line (Washington Post) says As Trump stares a loss in the face, even his favorite lies are failing him. "The key finding in the new ABC News tracking poll, which finds Clinton leading among likely voters nationally by 50-38, is that affirmative support for Clinton among her supporters, as opposed to a motivator only rooted in dislike for the other side, is growing ... the punditry got this race all wrong. Yes, it’s true that Clinton is one of two historically unpopular candidates. Yes, she is widely distrusted. Yes, she is a flawed candidate. But this campaign just isn’t a “race to the bottom,” as the cliche has it. One candidate is widely seen as fundamentally lacking in basic decency and fitness for the presidency, while the other just isn’t. And increasingly, one is affirmatively preferred by her supporters [56%], to a degree that the other just isn’t [41%]. This last metric will be important to keep an eye on as we seek to understand what’s happening in the race’s final days."

Nate Silver explains differences among models - "Although it fluctuates, [15% is] roughly where FiveThirtyEight’s polls-only model has Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidential race. That’s a little more bullish on the Republican’s chances than other models, and that’s because of the model’s design. If we ignored the large number of undecided votes, Trump’s chances would be 10 percent; if we calibrated the model since 2000 rather than 1972, his chances would be about 5 percent; and if we assumed states moved independently rather than having some correlation in error, that would give him less than a 1 percent chance." So if one or more of Silver's assumptions are wrong, Clinton's chances in the model would improve a lot. Silver provides a lot more detail on his model's assumptions in his Election Update: Why Our Model Is More Bullish Than Others On Trump.

A CLINTON WIN MIGHT NOT BE BIG ENOUGH TO FLIP THE HOUSE from the HuffPollster - John Harwood: “The larger Hillary Clinton’s polling margin over Donald J. Trump grows, the louder the question becomes: Is control of the House of Representatives really in play? Among House strategists in both parties, the answer remains the same as it has been all year: not yet. Democrats must gain 30 seats to capture a majority. That requires sweeping nearly all Republican-held seats in which they nurse even small hopes of winning. Yet the interplay between the presidential race and others on the ballot has made those small hopes bigger….Using data from elections since 1948, [Columbia University’s Robert] Erikson estimates the coattail effect this way: Every percentage point added to a Clinton victory margin would add half a point to the average Democratic House candidate….Gary Jacobson of the University of California, San Diego, uses generic vote poll questions to predict House outcomes. In his calculation, which subtracts those who are undecided, voters now say by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent that they want Democrats to control the House next year. House Democrats need to stretch that edge to around 55-45 percent to come within range of a majority, he estimates. And to do that, they need a Clinton victory margin larger than the roughly six-percentage-point polling margin in the current New York Times national average.” [NYT] Scriber: She may well get that.

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