|Sorry to rain on the parade of professors, political scientists, pollsters and pundits, but all this debating over a percentage point here or a population sub-segment there; all the excuse-mongering; all the “if only she’d done that!” wailing and flailing; the (well-deserved) Comey-shaming; all the blame gaming, in short, is missing what this Truthteller suggests is the main question.
Instead of trying to justify, explain, excuse, or condemn the Democrat loss by a few votes in a few states, the real issue is NOT why this contest was won by the Republicans with so few strategically-located votes, but why it was not won by the Democrats with a ten-million (or more) vote plurality and a 50 (or more) edge in the Electoral College.
What enabled the coalition of the ignorant, the religious right, the Hillary haters, the rabid Tea Party and all the other anti-progressives, and, most tellingly, the millions of voters who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 rather than vote for a Black man, to go out and support the worst educated, least qualified, most dangerous, most despicable candidate in our history?
How did what should have been a nation-wide mass rejection of this oafish lout by all the real patriots and serious, educated, issue-conscious citizens turn into a sullen victory by the minority of Americans who hate the very idea of a rational, informed, fact-based approach to governing and public policy?
How did a no-brainer choice, the *obvious* win over ignorance, become literally a no brainer: the victory of a mindless minority composed of only about 25% of our neighbors? We are talking here, fellow losers, of what should have been a historically massive victory of rationality and public spiritedness over a mob.
The answer will not be found in the nit-picking of exit polls, or the insidious vote suppression schemes of the Republicans. The answer will be in understanding why, when faced with a looming disastrous overthrow of our country’s slow march to a progressive society, fully 45% of our citizens would not care enough to vote.
Call it Brexit 2, call it the triumph of the mob, call it an American tragedy. What we label this stunning defeat of rational governance doesn’t matter, won’t make us feel any better, will not soften the hard truth we learned last night: Exactly one half of the voters in this country have taken it away from the other half.
How did it happen? That’s for another essay, or five, and I may choose not to write it/them. The crushing fact is that I, along with all other self-styled “experts” and “political scientists” relied on polls to tell us what the people were thinking and feeling, and the polls were disastrously off. The polls did not include the views, the hatreds, the frustrations, the despair of millions of angry White working class and rural people. These folks, especially the ones in the Battleground states, saw the pollsters as part of the established governing and economic order, and refused to play the polling game. They hid in the weeds of our broken economy, and waited. They waited for November 8th, and the chance to grab a pitchfork and stick it the heart of the democracy that had failed them for thirty years and more.
They received an unexpected assist by FBI Director James Comey, when, on October 29th, he announced the discovery of 650,000 emails, some of which might be related to Hillary Clinton. It must have seemed to Trumps’ bumbling campaign team at that moment that there was a God, and that He was White. Overnight, the “discovery” energized Trump supporters, the ones who’d been polled, and the ones who hadn’t. “They’re gonna nail her!” went the internet, Sure, nine days later, Comey dropped the new “investigation”, clearing Clinton of the renewed suspicion. But the damage was done.
Trusting the polls, I made a model that at one point suggested a potential tsunami of votes for Clinton. I was wrong: the polls we were all looking at didn’t include about 5% of the country’s likely voters, all those hidden Trump supporters. The wave came, alright, but we were the ones who were drowned. Mea culpa.
Now, we have a con man about to bring his clownish confederates into the White House. May the native wisdom and courage of the better half of the country protect us, for it’s a certainty God won’t — he is White, and wants to resurrect a past when He was worshiped by ignorant masses.
|Let’s call it “Comey’s Betrayal”.
When FBI Director Comey announced yesterday that the 650,000 emails found on the Weiner man’s laptop were mostly duplicates, or completely unrelated to Hillary Clinton, he closed one chapter of the seemingly endless investigation into the Clinton server, and opened a new, far darker one on the FBI, and Comey himself. We shall see after the election if anyone or the Bureau is ever prosecuted for this massive violation of the Hatch Act. But for now, the damage has been done:
Our new late-decision model, which focuses on the Battleground states, was impacted directly, as the polls in those states tightened day by day since Friday, October 28th. As a result, our final projection for Clinton’s winning margin nationally is just above 10%, well into “wave” territory, but well short of the tsunami we had expected just two weeks ago.
In spite of Comey’s illegal action, we can still predict that Clinton will win a convincing Electoral College victory. We now project her total to be 355 EVs. (See our latest Electoral Vote map at Truthteller’s Final Projection.
|The new stash of emails being “reviewed” by the FBI will have a palpable affect on the outcome of the election. It was unconscionable that FBI Director Comey chose to announce the existence of these previously unknown emails just eleven days before Election Day, as even President Obama has now said.
What damage has the final October Surprise done?
|The good news is that the election will be over in just nine days.
The bad news is that between today and Tuesday, November 8th, most of us may suffocate from the endless stupidities being shouted by Trump and his surrogates, and repeated by the dumbed-down media. Trump is after voters, and the media is after audience and the advertising dollars that come with viewers and readers. Many have told me over the decades that I’m going straight to Hell. I almost wish such a place existed, for it would be a great pleasure to see Kellyanne Conway and the other Trump surrogates along with various TV “journalists” on fire for real.
This election has been full of information, 99% of which is not informative. Those looking for the truth are pretty much on their own. Lost in the mind-numbing endless repetitive chatter, lies, misleading claims, bitter accusations, and Trump insults are these truths that are among the more important ones just now:
Not bad, fellow citizens; not bad at all.
Truthteller “Late decider prediction tool” update
We’ve continued daily tests of our new model, and it is still performing as we’d hoped. Meaning it’s quietly tracking the steady, unspectacular drift of the remaining third party and undecided supporters to Clinton and Trump. As hypothesized back in September before the first debate, the great majority of these late deciders are indeed falling to Clinton.
Readers will recall we’re testing the new tool using the main twelve Battleground state daily poll averaged results. These are the most hotly contested states, the ones that will decide the election. As of last night, October 29th, since September 26th in these key states:
Just to remind you, the primary purpose of the new tool is to predict the final national winning margin for the victorious candidate. This percentage is the key predictor in guessing how many House seats, if any, might flip to Democrat occupants. More on this below, but for now we can say that the tool predicts that Clinton will win with at least a 15% margin over Trump. To be blunt, this projection is regarded by most experts as wishful, possibly insane, thinking.
The main analytical problem in 2016
As noted here and in many other election analysis sites, the undecided likely voters are taking their time to make up their minds. Similarly, the greater number of third partiers than has been the case in prior elections are hanging on to their candidates right down to the wire. We cannot really blame these late deciders, given the tendency in this ugly contest for a new revelation to appear every ten days or so. These last roughly fifteen percent of the likely voters have made life miserable for the polling organizations. Many of their most revered “rules” and past voter behavior patterns simply don’t apply this year, with its two intensely disliked main candidates, and its two third parties.
Seeing this relatively huge pool of late-deciders on the horizon is the reason we invented a special-purpose, applies-to-2016-only predictive model in September. It’s experimental, and hard to test, since there are no fat files full of past data to use, simply because this type of election has never occurred before.
What we expect to see
With eight more testing days to go, we may find a flaw in the math, but based on the trial so far, we’re confident that the model will come reasonably close to predicting Clinton’s final victory margin. With each passing day, the shift of the majority of late deciders to Clinton has been rock-steady.
Then came a stunning confirmation of our tentative projection from a quality polling service. Over nineteen million voters have already voted, so Reuters/IPSOS finally has enough of a pool to build a sample of these early deciders. Yesterday they announced that Clinton’s reported winning margin among these folks was, indeed, 15%! We cannot say for certain if that margin will hold up through November 8th, but if it should be close to that, then we’ll feel our effort was vindicated.
Much more importantly, a huge winning margin of twelve percent or more will give the Dems a good chance of adding 30 or more House seats to their present total, and taking control of the Congress.
We’ll publish our final projection next weekend, before Election Day.
|Just two weeks to go! Soon we’ll all be able to step back and survey the damage done to our democracy by the worst Presidential election campaign in living memory.
We can take comfort in the very high probability that Trump will face a crushing defeat on Election Day. We can also breathe a collective sigh of relief that Clinton will hold the vacated Harry Reid Senate seat in Nevada, plus take at least five away from the Republicans, for a net 51 to 49 Senate tally. My forecast says she will get at least one more, and could even get two more, depending on the results in Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina.
Hopefully, all our readers have already voted, as have we. But we cannot just sit back and wait for the results in two weeks. The one remaining issue of how many Congressional seats Clinton can flip on November 8th is a long way from being settled. As the frightened comments by seasoned Republican political operatives and pollsters testify, the House is very much in play.
Here’s what we think we know.
If Clinton’s winning national margin is, say 7%, most experienced observers feel she’ll take a net 10-12 House seats away from Paul Ryan. The prevailing estimating rule of thumb, such as it is, advises that for each additional percentage point she achieves, she can expect an additional four to six seats to flip.
The consensus estimate going into these final two weeks is that Clinton will win by about ten points, nationally, or three points above her current seven in the most-quoted polling averages. If we assume just four seats gained per point, the three additional margin points should yield another twelve seats, bringing her flip total to, say, 22 to 24 seats. We cannot guarantee this number, but we can say it’s not outside the bounds of reasonable expectations, based on the (still poor) understanding we have of the winning mechanics in Gerrymandered House seats.
A wave by any other name is… holy s**t!
Now it gets really interesting. If Clinton’s wave builds into a true electoral tsunami, what are the odds she’ll add another ten or more seats to her flip score?
About a month back, we concluded the best way to estimate this possibility is to model the late-decision behavior among five distinct voter sub-populations:
We further hypothesized that in this particular year, with its two intensely disliked major party candidates, the third group, the undecided voters who finally come out to vote, will not split evenly between Trump and Clinton. Rather, we’re predicting the majority of such voters will opt for Clinton. (See older posts for my simple reasoning to support this radical idea.)
We decided to focus our analysis on the twelve key Battleground states, using only recent state poll results. The twelve states are Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. (We are also modeling Missouri, Texas, and Georgia out of curiosity, but their results are not included in our prediction numbers.) Our thinking was that tracking the day-to-day polling in the hotly contested swing states would clearly reveal evidence for our splitting theory, if any such proof comes to light.
We built such a tool and had it ready to test by September 26th, the day of the first debate.
Our first challenge was to track day-today-changes in the five reported voter categories:
Our second challenge would be to predict the ultimate percentage split among these five groups into the more refined subgroups listed earlier. The key assumptions here are that Clinton supporters would do as they had told the pollsters they would, but that while the majority of Trump’s supporters would come out to vote for him, a proportion of them would not, after being told by Trump himself so often that their votes would not matter in this “rigged” election. Or, as we speculated here months ago, many Trump-supporting women would decide at the last moment not to cast their vote for him out of sheer disgust.
Results to date
We’re still tweaking the second part of our new baby, but the first part, the tracking of the decision pattern among the Johnson/Stein sujpporters and undecideds, is humming along nicely.
To begin, we isolated the percentage of 3rd party and undecided voters in all 12 Battleground states. Together, they made up 18.67% of all the polled likely voters (in these twelve specific states, not in the country as a whole). Since September 26, the “movement” among the Battleground voting groups tested by the tool has been as follows:
A stunner, readers, truly! In these past three weeks, just 17% of the late-deciders so far have chosen Trump, while 83% have moved to Clinton.
Our intuitive vote splitting theory is thus validated. That’s reassuring. But the fact that nine out of ten late-deciders still have yet to make up their minds is unsettling, at least for someone trying to predict Clinton and Trump’s final share of the national vote.
What it means for November 8th
Undaunted by the large remaining number of late-deciders, which nationally come to about 8% of voters still supporting the 3rd parties and 5% still undecided, we can now make an initial estimate of Clinton’s likely final winning margin. First, we think that only 3 of the third partier 8 percent will stick with their candidates through November 8th. We’ll also hazard that 2 of the 5 percent currently undecideds will “decide” not to vote, and stay home. If we’re close to being right, that should leave a total of 8 of the 13 percent late deciders making a choice for either Clinton or Trump.
Based on our model results to date, we suggest that at least 75% of these voters, equal to 6 of the 8 late decider percent, will be voting for Clinton. This would add 6 national points to Clinton’s current 48, for a final national share of 54%. Trump would pick up the remaining 2 points, bringing his final total share from today’s 39% to 41%.
A 13% winning margin for Clinton on November 8th, in other words. Mega wave!
But wait, there’s less…
There’s going to be more bad news for Trump. We can be certain that some percentage of his current supporters are going to decide in the end to stay home, or go to the polls to support the down-ticket Republicans, but not vote for Trump.
But no one has a clue right now what proportion of the Republican voters will choose this course. We happen to think the number will be small, on the order of perhaps one in twenty of his present polled supporters. That would be about 2 points deducted from the 41 points we estimated for him above. Not a very big deal, it may seem; a paltry five percent.
But these opt-out Trumpsters would be lowering his final national vote share to 39% again — and give Clinton, with her 54 point final total, an estimated final margin of 15%! (Our experimental tool actually predicts a margin of above 16% at the moment, since the split-out of late-deciders we used in the example above was conservative.)
If, and, folks, this is a very large-sized if, Clinton earned four seat flips for each margin percentage point above seven, at 15% we would be talking of a total House take-away total of 40 seats. Or, deep breath everyone, more.
Hold on to your life-preservers, any readers out there who are supporting the Donald — surf’s up!
Here’s an insider tip for those worrying that the new ABC/WaPo polling lead of 12% for Clinton might be an outlier result, erring on the upside. Readers need to be aware that the oft-quoted national lead for Clinton of “6 or 7%” used by the TV lightweights is low. They mostly just quote the Real Clear Politics average, which is a seriously flawed number. Some use the Huffpost Pollster general polls average instead, which currently shows a 7.3% lead.
But for much improved accuracy, we use a customized version of the Huffpost average. Here’s the link:
Huffpost average — corrected TruthTeller version 2016/10/24. Technical note — we’ve used only the “live phone” polls collected by Huffpost Pollster. These are the most reliable polls.
When you open the above link (in a new tab), you’ll see that Clinton is probably leading Trump nationally by almost eleven points, not six or seven. This in turn means that the ABC/WaPo lead of 12 points is not so different. It’s a point higher because the poll was taken entirely after the 3rd debate, while the (corrected) Huffpost average of 11 points includes hundreds of polls results going back to August 1st.
Looking ahead two weeks, we expect Clinton’s final lead going into Election Day eve to climb further, probably topping out between 13.5 and 14%. Hang on to your spreadsheets, folks; we’re headed for a wave of historic proportions!
Welcome to all you new TruthTeller readers
Thank you for signing up! The TruthTeller blog was not scheduled to be launched until next year, when it would deal primarily with the issues of climate change and global warming mitigation, my primary research and analytical interest area. But seeing the potential disaster of a Trump-led Republican victory in this election cycle, I decided to start TruthTeller this year, hoping to add my quantitative analysis talents, such as they are, to the dialog.
I hope I’ve been able to make some of the complexities of this uniquely hard-to-predict race a little clearer. Even more, I hope you all will stay with us after November 8th. We’ll be commenting on the new administration, especially as part of our focus on mobilizing people and resources to deal with the looming climate disaster. We’ll also continue to track the first stages in the 2018 Congressional contest, when the Clinton team will be challenged to hang on to their 2016 winnings.
Here’s our current projected map and EV forecast. At 375 EVs, we’re a bit above the consensus, due to our positive view in Georgia and Iowa. Enjoy!
As far as the new swing-voter model test is concerned, we’ve now reached a major milestone. We had hypothesized that in this weird election year, the majority of late-deciders would go for Clinton. Through three weeks of testing since the first Presidential debate, that is happening to a degree well beyond my expectations.
Using the daily pollling averages of the twelve key Battleground states, we have determined that in these specific states
- Johnson has lost 22% of his support
- The Green Party has lost (so far) only 4% of their support
- 13% (so far) of the undecided voters have made up their minds.
Drumroll, please: all of these losses have gone to Clinton. Trump is at exactly the support level he enjoyed on September 26.
We’ll continue tracking the changes in the 3rd party/undecideds cohorts every day. But at this point, we are sufficiently confident in our tracking math to say that Clinton will win every Battleground state on November 8th, most by a substantial margin.
We can also say with confidence that this will be a so-called wave election, allowing the Democrats to make aggressive gains in the Senate and House. But due to the difficulty in predicting the splits in the expected surge of last-day votes, we won’t know how many House seats Clinton’s coattails can flip until November 9th.
I feel compelled to add a footnote. It’s clear from our measurements that Jill Stein’s Green Party could hurt Clinton’s House push if the party members fail to vote for the Democratic House candidate in their district. Vote Green if you want to send a message, but be sure to vote for the folks who can help Clinton implement your agenda.
|…The Clinton Coalition is on the verge of swamping the Republicans in a wave not seen since Lyndon Johnson crushed them in 1964. Many pundits are finally awakening to this possibility; we intimated as much months ago in our first Battleground map.
Could something suddenly throw up a roadblock to the looming progressive victory? Well, sure; in an era of Wikileaks and sensationalistic revelations it would be daft to assume that the contest is over before it’s truly over: we’ve only to remember how Trump threw himself under his own fancy bus just ten days ago.
But time is short, and it’s unlikely in our judgment Clinton’s juggernaut can be slowed, much lest stopped. The notion that some massive mob of mystery Trump supporters will emerge from their shadows of shame, vote for him, and pull off a surprise win is, sorry, absurd.
The TruthTeller swing vote predictor tool
We’re still testing the new model with each day’s results, but the trend is clear: third party and undecided voters are making up their minds for Clinton, not Trump.
Long-demonstrated political experience says that most third party and undecided voters will opt to support one or the other of the two major party candidates as the contest nears decision day. Conventional wisdom has it that these last-minute deciders will tend to split roughly fifty-fifty.
Seeing the very substantial number of third party and undecideds this year, we wondered if that might foretell a different split. Our theory was, loosely, that the late-deciding voters would disproportionately decide for Clinton. Our reasoning was simple:
We therefore concluded that
As announced to our readers, I proceeded to construct a last-minute swing vote model that could predict such a result in credible numbers.
The express objective? To test my hypothesis that in this specific and uniquely messy election, as the three categories of “swing” voters gradually opt for one or the other major parties, the disproportional majority of them will go for Clinton.
How it works
Unlike current models, ours contrasts a consolidation of polling in the twelve main Battleground states with the averaged consensus national poll. We know the results in the BG states will tend to be tighter, since that is where the contest is being waged most intensely. But the national trend is also important, since that correlates better with how each party will do in the Congressional races.
The model employs only recent state polls in the more or less “traditional” Battleground states, namely: Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, and Iowa, plus a twelfth I added last Spring, Arizona, after I realized the Latino vote was swelling there along with Colorado and Nevada. (Georgia, which I saw as another potential new swing state, has so far this cycle failed to develop sufficiently to make the Battleground cut, but should be there by 2020.)
Basically, our BG sub-model allocates 1200 percentage points — twelve states times 100 — across the five distinct voting categories:
plus what I define as the three categories of “swing” voters
We were ready to begin test runs on September 26th, the day of the first debate.
Complications — what else is new?
After a week or so of initial runs, we were gratified to see just the sort of trending our thought-model had suggested. In the two weeks between the first and second debates, we saw a steady increase in Clinton’s percentage of the vote across the BG states, excepting Iowa.
In the same period, we saw Trump’s share of the vote holding more or less steady. Meaning her gains had to be coming from the third parties and/or the undecideds. But the undecideds were also holding at the level of September 26th, so her gains were in fact coming from the two third party candidates. These voters were NOT going to Trump, just as our hypothesis had predicted. Satisfactory, dear Watson.
Then, on Friday October 7th, we all saw the Access Hollywood tape. Almost overnight the numbers began to roil, mainly due to millions of women, and men too, rejecting Trump’s boorish behavior, along with his insincere apology for it. In the week since, the polling has been all over the NBC Studios lot, as women come forth to accuse Trump of being a sexist liar and molester.
How a trend becomes a wave
Just before the 2nd debate, we were ready to share the preliminary results of our testing with you readers. The results at that point projected a strong Dem victory in every one of the twelve key Battleground states, even including Iowa. More importantly, the new tool forecasted a national win for Clinton of 12.2 points over Trump.
This margin is terribly important, since anything above 6 or 7 points nationally can spell a major win in the Senate and House of Representatives contests. In 2008, for example, the Obama team flipped 21 House seats after beating McCain by 7 points. If our estimate of 12% turned out to be correct, the 30 seats needed to return the House to Democratic control would likely be within reach.
But then, two immature boors on a bus happens, and the polling numbers go bananas.
They’re still unsettled, but our latest run, Saturday the 15th, suggests a winning Clinton margin above 14%. Gulp. We’ll keep running the tests, and hope that we see a final trend emerge about five days after the upcoming Wednesday third debate. That should let us make a prediction for the Democratic prospects in the House, with, still, nearly two weeks to go before voting day.
Watch this space!
Swing vote predictive tool update
With two full weeks (14 days) under its belt, the new model is stabilizing nicely. It clearly shows the evolving, highly dramatic shift in voter preferences toward Clinton in the twelve Battleground states. I want to incorporate the next two days of state inputs before explaining it here, so please be patient! It should be worth the wait, since Wednesday’s and Thursday’s polls will tell us more fully the real cost to Trump from his tape and his terrible 2nd debate performance.
Amidst the media and Republican howling over Pussygate and the ancient alleged sexual crimes of the Clintons, it’s easy to become depressed. Does anyone really care about the true issues in this contest?
We know the media don’t, since they’re making millions from the sales of TV ads in these final, hottest, most disgusting weeks before November 8th. And Trump and his minions have never seriously discussed any plans for the country’s future. Why would they start now, when, except for a plan to make the wealthiest 1% even wealthier, they basically have no plans?
In contrast, Hillary’s campaign team has a comprehensive set of policies and plans on her web site. It’s up to voters to go read them. Some will say that she should be spending her huge television budget on promoting her plans, instead of relentlessly attacking Trump’s character, or rather, lack of it. In their eyes, the Clinton tactics serve mainly to make her out to be as “dirty” a candidate as he is.
I respectfully disagree: Trump’s messaging, delivered via his billions of dollars worth of free media time, is like an all-out missile barrage. The Clinton team has had no choice since June but to mobilize an airwaves defense strategy more extensive than any we’ve ever seen since modern media was invented after WW2. Had they failed to react to his onslaught of lies and insults with such focus and determination, he might well have successfully made the transition from clown candidate to change candidate.
To her team’s credit, they’ve been able to use Trump’s own verbal garbage as the main ammunition in their counterattack. Instead of getting bogged down in the turgid details of his lies and tirades, they’ve simply let the ads quote the windbag’s foul wind baggage.
Americans have gotten it. Even before the disgusting revelations of last Friday and Trump’s loutish behavior since, 50% of voters were determined never to vote for him.
This percentage will only go up from now through October. But we’re not finished, yet. His candidacy is dying, but still has enough rancid breath to rail against the truth, and enough die-hard supporters to try and trash our democracy as they descend into the cesspit of demagogic history.
Keeping our eye on the (Supreme) prize
All the sound and fury must not divert us from the major fundamentals of the contest:
- We must elect Clinton to ensure a progressive Supreme Court — without this, we’ll see none of the critically-needed changes involving women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, marriage rights and campaign finance reform.
- We must take back the Senate to have any chance of implementing any part of the progressive agenda, beginning with aggressive action on mitigating climate change.
- We must take back the House to ensure that the full array of Clinton’s programs can be implemented.
The Election is not about electing Clinton, as wonderful a victory for women (and the rest of us) as that will be. The election is about defeating the Republican forces of legislative obstruction, and reversing the backward momentum forced upon us by the Tea Party and religious Conservatives.