|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.
|My apologies for “going quiet” the last few days. Like many of you and millions of others around the country, I had to step back from what will turn out to be a historically critical event, and think.
I haven’t been sitting in my darkened office stewing how we Progressives have lost what had seemed a sure win in the Electoral College. It was obvious to me and other insiders by about ten PM on Tuesday that the polling data we had relied upon to construct our various models was waaay off the mark. I’d struggled while building my own little “late decider” predictive tool with the likelihood that turnout could vary widely from what the pollsters were expecting. The polling organizations don’t tell us the detailed assumptions in their likely voter screens, so none of us who use the polls were prepared for the shocker that all their screens were devastatingly wrong. Bigly wrong. Yoogely wrong.
Simply put, no one, on the Republican side as well as the Democrat/Progressive side, had a clue that millions of Trump supporters were actively “hiding” from the poll takers. And, equally disastrous, the pollsters’ likely voter assumptions overlooked the millions of Dems who “supported” Clinton ideologically, but could not stomach actually going out and voting for her. The statistical result was that all predictive models missed an enormous bunch of Trump voters, and over-estimated Clinton likely voters by as much as ten percent, depending upon the state.
So much for the math, and the egg on nearly every political analyst’s face.
But as I said, that was no longer on my mind these last few days.
What I’ve been wrestling with is the recognition that one famously Progressive voice had called this result fully five months earlier, when Michael Moore, the documentarian of despair and right-wing deceit, said flat-out that Trump was going to win.
He made this maddening prediction and stuck to it, even though he was fighting day in and day out all these months to ensure it would turn out to be wrong. His assessment was based not on clever modeling methods but his deep, personal, and long experience of living with and studying the white industrial uneducated under-class; the core of Trump’s army of anger.
I’ve always respected Moore’s selfless, dedicated, persistent documentary work. He grabs an issue and then, like a terrier with a chew toy, won’t let it go until he has exposed the truth and captured it in a way millions can understand.
But I’ve never listened to his mind. I have, now, belatedly, and am considering his thoughts and advice in formulating my own. We have, as he has recently said, an incredibly challenging four years of struggle ahead of us. Those who are able must prepare, and plan, and think.
We are in the eye of the storm, reader. To preserve and protect the best, we must ready ourselves to face the worst.
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.
With 31 days until November 8th, the numbers predicted here in various posts over the summer and early fall are basically looking good.
The National race
Clinton has re-established and reinforced her lead over the summer. Before the party Conventions she was leading by 5 points. After the Convention ups, downs, and bounces, including a stretch of self-inflicted wounds by Trump, and Clinton’s deplorable error, the two had seemingly fought each other to a 1 or two point difference. Then, just eleven days ago, she performed strikingly well in the first debate, while Trump was Trump, and about 50 million people saw him be the odious bully he is for the first time. Very bad. The result in the national polls has been a surge for Clinton, to a solid 6 to 7 point lead. Very bad, indeed, Mr. Twitbag.
In the thirteen (as we defined them months ago) 2016 Battleground States, Clinton is now putting serious distance between her and the business failure. Trump acknowledged as much late this week as he publicly gave up his much-touted Rust Belt strategy to focus in the remaining days on Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. Yes, reader, you read correctly, and yes, it is a stupid strategy.
The Ground Game
On the ground, the Clinton Team has the Trump folks out-gunned by at least five to one in the Battleground states, no matter how you cut it. Typically, a well-run ground game in the final month can boost a candidate 1 or 2 percent in the national polls, and more in the swing states where the actual fighting takes place. No model reflects this added percentage for Clinton, but you may count on it showing up in the final tallies.
The Electoral Vote
The consensus among the quality forecasting sites says Clinton has over 330 EVs to Trump’s roughly 200. Not quite as ebullient as my much higher prediction in the pre-“deplorables” days, I’m happy to admit. But I still expect to see Clinton top 360 EVs or come very close.
The new Truthteller swing vote prediction model
As mentioned in a recent post, your wily Truthteller has taken on the problem unique to this 2016 Election, namely, two more or less equally distrusted candidates, two third parties with significant national followings, and a larger-than-normal contingent of undecided voters.
I’ll be posting on this project this weekend, so only provide the briefest update here, as a teaser. I was able to have the new model ready for testing the day of the first debate. Tracking aggregated Battleground state polls results each day since, the new model is working better than even I expected. It shows Clinton’s surging strength in a simple and clear way. It appears to show that her final vote tally in these key states will, in fact, be stronger than the conventional predictive tools conclude.
What lies ahead?
Leads after the debates tend to be stable, so it’s unlikely we’ll see Clinton fall back to less than a 5% lead in these final days. To the contrary, our model suggests she’ll grow her current 6 percent to as much as a consensus 8 or even 9 percent by Election Eve.
We can now be reasonably confident that Clinton will take all eleven of the traditional Battleground states, and has an even-money chance at taking Arizona. too. Georgia is going to be close, but my gut tells me the Clinton Team won’t be putting the time and money into the state to carry it. (This is a much more important question than all but a few realize: With its sixteen Electoral Votes, large educated white and growing minorities demographic, Georgia is on the verge of becoming the “Southern Ohio”. I’m arguing for the Dems to make an aggressive move now rather than later to make this a Progressive bedrock state for the future.)
Since five of the critically-close Senate seats are in the Battleground states, a strong win across the Battleground board could be just the push needed to win control of the Senate, by securing Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. These wins would give the Dems and their Independent partners working control of the Senate. But the same Clinton surge in the final four weeks should mean victories in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, too, giving her a 53 seat majority. (Ohio is out of reach, as is Florida, barring a major push against Rubio.)
Adding even one or two percentage points to Clinton’s national totals on Election Day has a vitally important bonus effect: for each such added percent, the Dems should flip four to six additional House seats, even in such a polarized, Gerrymandered House as we have this year. The experts are currently expecting Clinton to flip at least fifteen of the 30 House seats she needs to take control in 2017 and throw out the Ryan/Tea Party partnership that has caused national gridlock these past six and more years.
But my model says Clinton may add a total of as much as three or even four points to her national percentage tally when all the votes are counted in November. That could mean flipping 16 or more additional House Seats. Hello Progressivism; goodbye obstructionism.
Team Clinton’s massive advantage in the ground game should play a powerful role in flipping the key six or seven Senate seats and also taking House seats away for the Republicans. “Down ballot” means nothing to Trump, since he never intended to actually govern. But it means volumes to Democrats who’ve had to watch the Obama agenda stymied by a Republican Congress determined to block any program to help the country.
So far as the Electoral College is concerned, if my predictions hold, and Clinton also takes Georgia and, just possibly, Mississippi, too, then she’d top 370 EVs, a crushing defeat for the right wing.
Takeaways for the most important election in U.S. History since 1932
We’ll know more of the details in the days following the second debate. But we know enough already to be confident of a significant Clinton win. What we do not know yet is the extent to which her success will also be a Progressive victory.
To be a truly meaningful, historically profound Progressive win will depend on how many House and Senate seats can be flipped. This number will determine Clinton’s ability to execute the comprehensive Progressive agenda she and Senator Sanders have put forth.
It is imperative therefore that every Progressive,Democratic, Independent patriot, and you Moderate Republicans, too, vote for the Democrat down ballot candidates in every state, not just the Battlegrounds.
Winning a state’s Electoral Votes decides who shall be President; winning the House and Senate seats decides which Presidents shall be great ones.
As we await Trump’s likely humiliation in the second debate, I was anticipating a quiet week of quantitative analysis, perhaps with a meaty follow-up post on my current favorite topic, whence voteth the third partiers and undecideds come November 8th? <Sigh>
Instead, along comes Trump’s number one advocate Rudy Guiliani, raging that Trump just has to be a better choice than a woman. Hey, as loathsome a remark as it is, at least he’s saying what he obviously really believes. His candidate Trump is incapable of such sincerity.
Anyway, thanks to Tweedledum and Tweedledummer, I have a chance to discuss something about the 2016 election the reader won’t find on TV, or in the formidable New York Times. Herewith, a tale that stretches back millions of years of cold, unsympathetic time.
Thanks to changes in the East African climate, five or six million years ago the main Homininae line of Great Apes split in two. One of the two evolutionary lines became the Chimpanzees and the other became the Humanzees. Both groups were violent, intensely territorial, and socially sophisticated. Both were essentially arboreal initially, but spent their waking hours on the ground — grooming, having sex, gathering food, killing small animals and occasionally, one another. Both were gathered into small, male-dominated tribal groups, with one male at the top of the tribal hierarchy, and the other males trying to dislodge him. As is still the case today for both groups of ‘Zees, the main motivator to be the local greatest ape was access to females for breeding and sex.
Both groups walked on all fours, but both stood up briefly to look for threats or reach food on bushes or the lower branches of trees. The two groups were thus hard to distinguish for a million or two years after the genetic split, but then, the various Humanzee derivative species gradually evolved a standing posture, while the chimps stayed in the ancestral mode of walking on all fours.
Both groups learned to make and use tools, but the Humanzees were able to make tools that became technologies — where the skill-sets of making and using were sharable and communicable outside one’s tribe. This in turn allowed a given technology like, say, throwing a sharp stick, to evolve independently of any particular Humanzee tribe.
Standing up freed our hands for new tasks, and therefore was the primary cause of our becoming the innovative ape. We needn’t go into the details of how and why. Suffice to say standing gave us enormous advantages as a species, including a half-million years of superior weapons development, a wide-ranging aggressive mobility, and a male-centered power culture where females were relegated to sexual service, child-rearing, gathering nuts and berries, and cooking the meat brought home by their owners. Progress, right? Yes, for the few strongest and smartest males in the clan. But the females and weaker males benefited, too. More meat and better security. Obey, and live essentially in slavery, but at least you’ll be fed and protected.
All these many eons, as we’re learning from behavioral genetics, the fundamental mammalian gender division persisted, under the command of our ancestors’ genes: males are for fighting; females are for f**cking.
The slow grind of technological development did not not lessen our genetically bestowed male sense of authority, only enhanced it. Technologies were continually refined and invented, especially those related to hunting, warfare, and mobile migration. Almost all of the technologies were developed by Humanzee males, since females were by and large excluded from knowing the secrets of hunting or military or economic power. No doubt a better way found by a woman for dressing animal skins was appreciated, but the technique did not kill anything, or stop another male from raiding the clan’s camp, so did not bring the inventor any real power.
As the last Ice Age was drawing to a close, clans of male-ruled Humanzee tribes fanned out from Africa and quickly came to dominate all habitable regions of the planet. One can be sure that most females alive through these tens of thousands of years of explosive migration and conquest were little more than chattel and sexual slaves to the male warriors.
Did females protest their, to our eyes, oppression? Sorry, fellow Progressives, but the answer is no. In fact, to the contrary, the slowly advancing diminution and suppression of females was reinforced in their own genetically-driven behavior, as they acquiesced to the conditions of male power. Those who failed to submit were doubtless sold or worse.
But then, about ten thousand years ago, the most recent Ice Age ended, and another round of climate change gave us agriculture. Our male-controlled social hierarchies were forced to adapt, and, cutting out the chase, led us to vastly different cultures. But in all these “neolithic” and later cultures over a dozen millennia, the males at the top continued to wield all political and economic power. As the size of dominated populations increased, the power elites developed authoritarian, male-worshiping religious mythologies and structures to extend their control of the ruled females and weaker males. “God’s” principal purpose was to police the minds and behavior of females, or to explain any inconvenient failures by the ruling elite. Females were, and, if we look honestly at the global numbers, largely still are treated as property in practice, if not in law.
Fast forward to the 20th Century, and the breakdown of the traditional male-dominated power structure in massive wars and revolutions. Only in the last six decades have we seen a tiny number of females advance to hold meaningful political power, and in this new century, a few more rise to head a few major corporations. The handful of females to hold national political power since WW2 have been, of necessity, strong figures. The gradual enfranchisement of females meant they had a chance to rise in their national political establishments, and these women had the will and the skill to exploit the occasional crack in the glass ceiling.
But not in the U.S.A.
The genetic inheritance all males (and females, too) share had been allowed to go unchallenged here, until women were granted the right to vote. Then, in the decades after 1950, American women began to benefit from their emerging participation in the workplace. Many entered politics, most of them indirectly, like Hillary Clinton, but a few as candidates. Much progress has been made. But in no case has a woman held consequential national power: even a Secretary of State acts only at the express direction of her President. Now, after nearly 40 years of relentless work in public service, Clinton has mounted a direct and powerful assault on the highest and thickest glass ceiling in our country. So? What makes her case special, as compared to the great women who achieved the top rung of their respective ladder in India, Europe, or, briefly, Australia?
The profound difference is this: none of these women held the ultimate power as the undisputed military leader of the world. Her accession as lead protector of the global community forces us to look ourselves and our ancestors in the mirror.
Her opponent is so odious and incompetent that many Republicans, along with pundits and TV baby anchors ask “If she’s so superior, why isn’t her lead in the polls much larger?”. Or they dwell on “Why is she still so heartily distrusted?”. Or they get mired in worries about her “stamina”, meaning of course her stamina as a frail female compared to a big, loud male bully. Clearly, Clinton faces an added burden of proof that she is qualified to be our next President. Why?
The answer, my friend, is flowing in our genes.
Americans have finally been forced to come face to face with history and socio-political evolution. We must choose to hand over the ultimate military and police authority to a female, and deep within us, our genetically dictated behavioral command center is utterly opposed to this insane notion. Like it or not, an objective reading of our antecedents and history warns us that a very substantial proportion of otherwise allegedly “civilized” males, and probably nearly as many females, simply cannot accept the fundamental idea that women are up to and deserving of the ultimate power on Earth.
This, not phony rage against the “establishment” or a private email server, is the deepest-seated reason for the success of a con-man and hate-merchant like Donald Trump. This frightening vision of unmanly forced submission by millions of ignorant male chauvinists to her authority as Head of State is what drives them to Trumpism. The resentment of her “uppity” challenge to righteous male authority is what drags so many of the women to rallies where she is excoriated and condemned.
The great majority of these Trump supporters are not truly “deplorable”; few are outright racists-in-action, as opposed to racist in reaction. One cannot label a dumb beast as deplorable. No, these folks simply failed to hear or heed the message: “You can behave according to a rational creed of justice, science, and reason, or to the obsolete biological dictates coursing through your cells.”
It’s apparent Giuliani missed the message, too; perhaps he was screaming something stupid at the time, or maybe he was being stopped-and-frisked for criminal ignorance.
So she said, and so she is. Clinton has demonstrated once again that she is a supremely competent, dedicated lifetime public servant who’s also gifted at taking down overblown bullies. It wasn’t even close, a total mismatch. Trump may stick his name on tall towers, but her intellect and command of the issues towers far above his self-centered view of the egoistic, delusional, adolescent reality he inhabits.
Was anything accomplished by the public deflating of the Orange windbag?
Certainly not among Trump’s benighted followers, who will be whining from now to November how he was cheated, or treated with no respect, or prevented from repeating his bellicose lies for the fifth time by an unfair moderator.
So far as Clinton’s supporters are concerned, their worst fears about Trump’s lack of fitness for the Presidency, his bullying egoism, his mental deficiencies, and his unstable temperament were confirmed. The only surprise was that Mr. Stamina doesn’t actually have much. Oh, and that, as Dr. Howard Dean speculated, he may be on coke.
With some 45% of voters presently locked in for Clinton, and about 38% mesmerized by Trump’s BS, it’s the roughly 17% in the middle who’ll decide the election.
As for these third party and undecided voters, the 3PUs as I call them, we won’t know for a few days how many were moved under the Clinton coalition umbrella to avoid the deluge of Trumpian lies and downright dumb Republican “policy proposals”. My experience says a seriously large chunk of the educated white independents have seen enough, and will not be voting for Trump. At the same time, their dislike for Clinton remains strong, even if she took real steps to mute it last night, so these “Republican Independents” will probably stay in the Libertarian or undecided ranks. For now.
But even without a slew of fresh national and Battleground state polls, one overnight fact jumps out from Trump’s disastrous showing: an instant CNN/ORC poll showed 62% of the debate watchers judged Clinton the hands-down winner, versus just 27% awarding the fight to Trump, leaving 11% undecided.
Given this data, here’s your insider analytical fact package of the morning.
The 27% nicely matches the 28% hard-core Trump supporters assumed by the Truthteller model. The eleven percent undecided matches my current 3PU number of 16%, minus the currently expected slippage in our model of at least five percent going to Clinton when the final tally is completed November 8th..
But here’s the tantalizing possibility: could the 62% equal a (now) new “Clinton core” of 57% plus the 5% switcheroos? If so, that would point to a potential landslide for Clinton. It makes my head spin, even though the brain inside assures me this cannot be true.
Watch this space!
The terrific electoral vote mapping site 270towin.com has an excellent new page for seeing the updated national and state polls using simple pie charts. On one clean, uncluttered, easy to scan page, you’ll see how the accumulated recent averages of national and state polls stand as of that day. Each pie chart shows the current support for Clinton, Trump, and the “others”. You can start with the latest national numbers, then scroll across and down the page to see who has the largest slice of pie in each state. The folks at 270towin take the average of all available recent polls, so you need not drill down into the bottomless questions of poll credibility, etc. Below we’ll use the new page to gain some powerful state-by-state insights to this extraordinarily complex contest.
How to set up the web page
On the new 270towin polls summary page look for the SORT button (on a forest green background) just above the “National” pie chart on the lower left of the top row of the pie charts display. Above the SORT button is a check box to show the 3rd party and undecided breakout in each pie chart. Check the box and wait for the page to auto-refresh.
Now, select another useful option. To the right of the green SORT button you’ll see a set of radio button choices Choosing “Competitiveness” will bring the Battleground and other closely-contested states up toward the top of the array display, saving scan time. Select that button and wait for the page to auto-refresh again.
Now we’re ready to put this new 270towin tool to work.
Tip: As you scan down the page, watch the gold/green/gray slices of the Battleground state pies
The new all-polls-on-one-page illustrates how the combined third party/undecided “other” voters are making the estimation of “likely voters”, and the final November win/lose percentages so difficult this year. (Note that 270towin’s “other” is the same as my “3PU” group name.) In a recent post I’ve dwelt at some length on estimating the likely voting behavior of the 3PUs, so we need not belabor the problem again here. My “net-net” conclusion was that, when all the votes are in on November 9th, “slippage” from the 3PUs will be due to half the Stein, Johnson, and (some) undecided voters deciding that Clinton is safer for the country than Trump. These last-minute decisions will be the 2016 version of the expected traditional “natural” movement away from the third parties as voters decide they want their vote to count.
How can we use the pie-charts page to gauge the potential impact of the expected wave of last-minute voter bloc decisions, especially in the key swing states that will actually decide the national election?
To answer this question for a given state, you’ll first need to add the percentages and subtract from 100 to deduce the Green Party’s voter preference share in each pie chart. In Nevada for example, add Clinton’s 41%, Trump’s 43%, Johnson’s 8%, and the undecided (as of today) 7%. Subtracting from 100% yields Stein’s current share, 1%, and thus, a total of 16% 3PUs.
In past elections where there was a significant third party and/or a large proportion of undecideds, roughly half of the total 3PUs have gone to each of the two main candidates. So, if that happens again this year, who cares about the gold/green/gray “others” pie slices in 270towin’s terrific one-page array?
You do, if you’re a Progressive or Democrat.
Remember please, my conclusion a few days back was that very few of these 3PU switcharoo votes will go to Trump:
Trump has all the supporters at this point he’s likely to get. He has so poisoned himself in terms of character, competence, and temperament that very few 3PU voters are going to change their mind in the polling booth and vote for him. The Libertarians are uniformly opposed to him as are the Greens, so he can, at best, hope for a few undecideds to take him up on his “Whaddya got to lose?” offer.
Unlike in previous elections, where we’d expect the undecided group to split roughly evenly between the candidates, I suggest that the electorate this year is so exceptionally angst-ridden we could see the undecideds splitting 40% for Clinton, 30% for Trump, and 30% failing to vote. Combine this breakout with my assumption that half of the 3Ps will switch to Clinton while the other half stick with their 3P candidate, and we have a wholly different take on the likely final results in November than the simplistic reading of the current polls by the TV commentators would indicate. In a phrase, I’ll call this the “November surprise” of 2016.
Is a “November surprise” a real possibility?
Yes, as can be seen when we do a state-by-state “flip-ability” estimate for the key Battleground and other closely-contested states.
Assuming our last-minute voter behavioral analysis model is basically correct, let’s scan the array of state pie charts on the new 270towin pie charts page. When we do, we see how, in state after state, a switch of just a small portion of the 3PUs (shown in the gold, green and gray slivers at the top of each chart) to Clinton in a few states would decide those states for the Dems. If this same “November surprise” effect occurred in just a few of the red-leaning states, it would turn the overall national contest from the so-called “dead heat” the TV media is selling to a Democratic rout of Trump and his Republican fellow travelers.
Again, let’s use Nevada for a test case. Above we saw that the projected tally based on polls is 41% for Clinton, 43% for Trump, with a total of 9% for the 3Ps and 7% undecideds. My analysis therefore is half of the 9% goes to Clinton, while the other half toughs it out. Meanwhile of the 7% undecideds, I’ll call 3% to Clinton, 2% to Trump, and 2% not voting, That would give Clinton 41 + 4.5 + 3 or 48.5% total to Trump’s 43 + 2 or 45% total, with 4.5% staying with the third parties and 2% not voting. From a 2 point deficit using today’s polls, Clinton pulls out a comfortable win on November 8th.
Now let’s examine the other truly key Battleground states using the new 270towin array.
- If just one-third of North Carolina’s 15% 3PU voters decide at the end to be safe with Clinton, she flips the state’s 15 Electoral Votes (EVs)
- Ditto with Ohio, where a quarter of the state’s 18% 3PUs would give her a squeaker, but a win is a win…
- And in Iowa (!), now being Trumpeted as a likely win for the Orange windbag — a 25% Clinton final decision among the large 20% of “other” voters would move Iowa into the Clinton column
- A 25% last-minute decision for Clinton among Florida’s 12% 3PUs would let her take Florida by a margin larger than President Obama’s in 2012.
And it may not end there. Look at solid red Texas (where Clinton is actually now leading in the registered voter polls): a last minute decision for Clinton by just 25% of Texas’ huge 27% “other” category would give her an even-money chance of nabbing the state’s 38 EVs. In Georgia, the same scenario is possible, if a third of the state’s 15% “other” voters opt at the last minute for Clinton — not inconceivable considering the Atlanta urbanites’ distaste for Trump, coupled with an expected surge in African-American turnout. In Arizona, the story is even worse for the Republicans, since just a twenty percent last-minute decision for Clinton among the state’s enormous 24% “other” bloc would flip this red state to blue.
What will drive 20 to 40 percent of 3PUs in these key states to change to Clinton? The deep Clinton ground game in most of them will be a huge facilitator, but mostly it will be the realization by voters of the likely dangerous consequences of allowing Trump to win. For most of these last-minute switchers, it will start and end with the Supreme Court, and the prospect of as many as three Trump appointments, turning our country into a fascist paradise for the super wealthy and their corporations.
Yeah, I understand: my “November surprise” scenario sounds too good to be true. And it may well be. Admittedly, my handy-dandy formula for estimating the average final split percentages in the state results will be “off” for any given state. And my estimate of 50% of the 3P votes going at the end to Clinton may be too high. Ah, but it could also be too low: if the fear of Trump in the Oval Office continues to grow, we’d see perhaps 70% of the combined Green/Libertarian voters switching. Considering the large proportion of 3P voters in today’s polls, a 70% average move of these voters to the Democrats would seal Ohio for Clinton, in addition to her wins in Florida, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Game over, Orange guy; back to the penthouse and your other reality show.
A warning for the faint of heart
We cannot predict with any certainty how large a percentage of the 3PU/”other” folks will, in the end, switch to Clinton in any given state. Nonetheless, IMO the argument that a) there will be a significant degree of “others” slippage in these final weeks and b) that the great majority of the switcheroos will go for Clinton are sound hypotheses.
But understand the nature of the last-minute decision process: whatever slippage comes Clinton’s way will not be evident until the votes are counted. It means the contest is likely to be a nail biter all the way to the end, with the results not fully known until the early hours of November 9th.
We also need to remember that the “likely voter” models of the various pollsters would be wrecked (statistically) if as few of 5% of Republicans stay home in disgust or protest. If an additional say, 5% of Trump’s core voters decide he’s hopeless beaten and don’t bother voting, that would further deflate the likely voter estimates for the Republicans. And if, say 5% more of his supporters finally realize what a ruthless, truthless con man he is, we can envision a shocking tidal wave of switches to Clinton. (I’m thinking primarily of the non-college white women here, especially the ones who have a daughter.) The combination of these three sub-bloc behaviors on Election Day would not only defeat Trump: they’d have a profound impact on the Republican candidates for the House and Senate. But we’ll deal with that prospect in a future post.
Ironically, should the former Sanders supporters ultimately decide not to vote, the impact on Clinton would not be significant, since these hard-care voters are now supporting the Libertarians, the Greens, or are milling about in the undecided category. The larger point is that likely voter numbers are suspect this year, and could well have a bearing on my estimates above.
Understand as well that an “October surprise could throw off my “November surprise” estimates. But it’s not clear what such a surprise might be, nor can we say it would help Trump more than Clinton (as the TV talking heads and pundits mostly seem to assume.) I’d bet we’ll see more leaked emails, and that they won’t significantly affect the results. The possibility of a major external terrorist attack cannot be ruled out, of course. But such an event could turn out to be to Clinton’s benefit, as scared voters opt for the more stable, experienced, and competent candidate. My personal favorite October surprise.is that after two debates, or even just one, Trump whines the debates are rigged, and walk away from another face-off. That would definitely cost him permanently in the polls.
No way around it; there’s weeks of uncertainty ahead! But here’s a silver lining to keep you calm. Note that I’ve only listed eight of the states that could conceivably be in play, using my behavioral analysis of the “others” category in these states. Just one red-to-blue flip among these states due to pro-Clinton 3PU slippage would effectively block Trump from any path to 270 EVs.
Watching the latest rounds of Pundit Pinball over the past two weeks, with the media’s death-spiral emphasis on emails, Putin mania, Deploramania, Clintonian health panic, Trump’s I-was-against-it-before-I-was-for-it-before-I-was-against-it babble, the “I’ve got a secret plan to defeat Isis, but the useless Generals I’ll be inheriting from useless Obama next January haven’t told me what it is yet” gambit, and the “I’ve got more Generals and Admirals than you do — so there, fat boy!” counter thrust, one could be excused for giving up on this election altogether.
Thanks to the Washington Post for what will likely prove a vain attempt to call for an end to the “which email was that?” witch hunt. Not that any press or TV news organizations are going to suddenly become professionally responsible again anytime soon.
And thanks even more to Kim Jong Un, for blowing a five kiloton hole in his own country, and reminding us that the election is about very real and very scary issues.
And then, just when I thought things would be getting back to normal, meaning another week of the campaigns sniping at each other over concerns of personal competence and character instead of debating the issues, we learn from General Powell what he really thinks, and not just about Trump, and the media are off to Kandidate Kiddyland again.
On cue, along comes the Birther nastiness, as if we needed another dose to go with our pneumania pills. I’ll save you the time and cut to the chase. Friday we saw Trump’s casual concession, tossed off during a promo event for his new hotel, that, yes, the President is really an American. Offered without any mention of the five years of racist madness he led and fostered. Offered without any apology to our President and our people. Offered in fact with another lie about Clinton, and hence, a justification in Trump’s adolescent mind, where he believes his own lies, for his five year attempt to sabotage the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Obama administration.
Then we get another forty-eight hours worth of home-grown terrorism, if that’s what it was. Another two days down the media gutter, during which we’ll learn nothing of any substance about the most momentous election facing us since 1964. Media muddle, indeed.
Please, can we get back to the polls?
Spoiler alert: Clinton and Trump are not “tied”.
Given the way the TV and online media hype every poll result that comes in, readers may be forgiven for having that impression. I’ll say this for hopefully the last time this cycle::
- Poll results may tell us how voters would vote if the election were held now, but they are not a “prediction” of what will the results will be seven weeks from today
- “How voters would vote now” is itself a misleading phrase, my apologies: so many voters in this 2016 contest will probably be making up their minds as they enter the polling station, every “this minute” poll would probably be significantly wrong
- Some polls are more accurate than others; it’s your job to learn which tend to be accurate over (long stretches of) time — if you don’t care to do this, and my sympathies are with you!, then you should simply not listen to “news” reports based on the latest poll
- Similarly, many polls tend to be biased over time toward the Republicans and a smaller number toward the Democrats — as I’ve suggested in a previous post, go to 538’s polling organizations ratings table to see a given polling organization’s credibility
- State polls are the ones that count, since they assess today’s voter opinions at the state level, where, thanks to our obsolete Electoral College system, Presidential contests are won or lost
- But for technical (not “conspiratorial”) reasons, state polls lag national polls, meaning the latest national poll result may not reflect the current preferences in a state, or a group of states
- Polls of even the same voter population can change dramatically in a short period of time, due to events, surprises, discovery of new information, or an external threat to the country.
OK, Mr. Truthiness, all well and good, but WHO’S LEADING?
Given the above, we don’t actually know who’s ahead in the “if we voted right now” case. As far as November 8th is concerned, however, Clinton is still ahead. According to Dr. Wang, Clinton has an eighty-five to ninety percent chance of winning more than 269 Electoral Votes. In the national polling, of the approximately 80% of declared Trump or Clinton backers nationally, she has about 41% to his 39%.
Loyal readers and true Patriots, bear with me, please. Political polling in the U.S. is really complicated. The producers of TV news programs are not going to spend the hours required to explain why. 99% of voters don’t really care to know. So here are some tips to get you through the coming six weeks:
- Until roughly the final two weeks before Election day, polls should be treated as one would any other information resource. Obsessing over them is a waste of time.
- In every election, a significant number of voters remain undecided or seemingly committed to a third party until the last moment, roughly five percent. Right now, I’m betting this number is at 29%, give or take a few percentage points. No, I can’t prove this, since the polls are more unreliable than in prior years.
- The debates may or may not persuade folks that Clinton’s competence and real qualifications outweigh Trump’s bluster and snake-oil salesmanship, but we probably won’t know the full polling impact of the three debates until the middle or third week of October.
- There probably will be more revelations of damaging emails, or of Trump’s shoddy business and financial practices, and we won’t know what impact, if any, these have on the voters’ choice process, but I’m betting any such impacts will prove to be minor.
- For all the wise-sounding back and forth by the TV and press commentators, we don’t know who’ll actually turn out to vote, or mail in their ballot. “Likely voter” polls try their best to screen out those registered voters who will, or may probably not vote, but this is not an exact science. This year, with roughly two-thirds of the electorate intensely disliking one or both major candidates, it’s especially challenging to predict who will actually show up to vote, and how relatively firm they are at that deciding moment about their essentially negative choice.
The complications of “soft support” mixed with two independent parties
At least seven — I’m guessing nine — point’s worth of “decided” voters are “soft” on their seemingly chosen candidate. Trump and Clinton are, people tell the pollsters, the two most disliked candidates in modern history. We know that many of Trump’s and Clinton’s backers prefer their candidate as the lesser of two very poor choices. It’s reasonable to assume therefore that, conservatively, perhaps 5% of Trump’s stated supporters and 4% of Clinton supporters fall into this “soft” category. These queasy supporters could easily abandon their stated choice in the final days, and simply stay home. How they’ll actually vote, if they do, is a once in a lifetime headache of enormous proportions for pollsters.
Now, add in the Libertarian and Green supporters, who poll nationally at roughly nine and four percent respectively. Include the truly undecided seven percent, and my back-of-the-envelope estimate is that the true national numbers today are 37% Clinton, 4% “soft” Clinton, 34% Trump, 5% “soft” Trump, with 9% Johnson, 4% Stein, and 7% truly undecided bringing us up to 100% of likely voters. Clever readers will note my estimate of twenty-nine percent of soft supporters and undecideds would suggest that the nationally quoted 80% combined committed Clinton and Trump voters is actually just 71%. Yes, that is what I’m saying. Note that this says just 71% are hard-core committed to a major candidate. If my reading of the inherent softness and confusion among those polled is correct, it means that the 29% will decide the contest in November.
This election is the most difficult to poll or “model” than any in our modern history
We’ll deal with the softies in a bit, after we consider the independent Parties and “truly” undecideds:
- Expect that with no Gary Johnson in the debates, his roughly nine percent at the moment of the national polling averages will fall to as low as five or less percent of the final total. Your Truthteller’s magic cigar box says recognizing at the end how crucial this contest is for our country, about forty percent of his voters will vote for Clinton, while no more than a few percent will vote for Trump. Bitter to the end, perhaps fifty-five percent will doggedly stick with him.
- As for the Greens, perhaps half of Stein’s three to four percent will switch to Clinton, and exactly zero will go for Trump.
- The bigger mystery is how the presently truly undecided seven percent or so will split, since we won’t have data until the late evening of November eighth. The smart approach I suggest is to assume two points to Clinton and one to Trump, with the remaining four sitting it out.
How do I expect the 29% to break?
Potentially almost a third of likely voters could change their choice in the four weeks after the debates. Yikes! We got here thanks to two highly distrusted major candidates and two independents whose only actual contribution would be to help the totally unqualified Trump get elected. Nasty. Unprecedented. Frightening. Impossible to model. And yet, the very same massive pool of 29% “effectively undecided” voters that makes this election so difficult to analyze is the 29% that offers us a strong hope for a positive outcome.
How could this be?
Because, patient reader, Trump is unlikely to gain more than a few additional supporters in the final seven weeks before November 8th. And a very substantial proportion of the 29% are going to realize the prospect of a disastrous Trump presidency is not a risk worth taking. What looks like a tooth-and-nail fight for Clinton right now could actually be a landslide in the making..
Let’s break out the 29% and test this hypothesis:
Trump — I expect 3% of his softies to sit out the election, and 2% to pray intensely and then vote for him, while he picks up 2% of the undecideds; he’ll get zero from Stein, no surprise, and zero from Johnson (whose supporters came to the Libertarians to avoid the bitter nightmare of Trump).
Clinton — I’m confident she’ll keep three of her four percent soft supporters, with the one percent staying at home (but certainly not switching to Trump); she’ll pick up 4% from Johnson, 2% from Stein, and 3% of the 7% truly undecided.
The final tally on the back of my envelope? Trump at 38%, Johnson at 4%, Stein at 2%, with Clinton at 49%, and 6% not voting. No, she wouldn’t win a national majority, but she would trounce Trump in most of the Battleground states, making for a very large Electoral Vote majority. On the safe side, I’ll go all-in: Clinton will win the Presidency if she takes Virginia and Pennsylvania.
This outcome will be the result of the (completely warranted) fear of Trump, not of any sudden outpouring of trust in Clinton. So be it; we’ll take it. Instead of talking about the “enthusiasm gap”, media mavens should be discussing the “riskiness factor”.
But what about the issues?
Thanks to the disruption of the Trump candidacy, the serious issues of governance have been shoved out of the arena this year, so we’ve heard next to nothing about the challenges that face our country. Trump’s clever methods of grabbing the spotlight with bluster, lies, personal and cultural insults, provocation and controversy have forced the Clinton campaign to try and respond to and cope with this whirlwind of disinformation, instead of presenting her policies and having a rational debate.
The Clinton team was fully aware of the kind of nasty fight they would face if Trump became the nominee, and prepared for it by at least publishing her policies and positions in detail on her website. They’re there for all to see, clearly presented, free of BS and boilerplate. But very few voters have taken the time to read this information. Trump has done nothing like this, since he knows his supporters don’t care about the issues, and since he doesn’t want to be pinned down on anything specific.
In spite of this, your faithful Truthteller will discuss the serious issues soon, as we approach the first debate. We can but hope…
Over the past two months, this question has occurred to me several times. Other commentators have raised it, too, and I’m not speaking of the many joking suggestions that Trump is actively scheming to throw the election so he won’t have to stop playing golf.
For me, the nagging suspicion he might not want to be President began with his apparent disinterest in working on a campaign launch in the weeks after locking up the Republican nomination. Trump boasts endlessly about his skill as a builder. The planning and preparatory steps before a major building construction project can begin are time-critical. But in spite of his alleged savvy as a builder, Trump showed no evidence he was even thinking about the urgent tasks that were required to run a professional campaign.
- He put off the replacement of his Primary campaign manager, who was not qualified to run a full general election campaign
- When he finally did appoint a “Campaign Chairman”, he selected a lobbyist with no campaign management track record
- He neglected to build a professional, proven campaign team that could potentially rival the top-grade legion Clinton’s managers had already assembled in Brooklyn
- He repeatedly bashed polling professionals, saying he didn’t need them
- He trashed the Republican National Committee and the Republican leadership in Congress — an odd thing to do since he sorely needed their support and material help
- He failed to establish and foster a relationship with the RNC on the workaday staff level
- A self-styled media and TV giant, Trump twiddled his thumbs as, all through June and early July, the Clinton organization pounded him with devastating TV ads in the swing states
- He was content to make overblown promises about the fast-approaching Republican Convention, while doing little to ensure the show would be successful
- Most incredulous of all, Trump failed to field an effective fund-raising machine and failed to secure funding from traditional Republic wealthy donors — Trump’s constant crowing about being “self-funded” was turning out to be true, and, after an alleged $50 million investment, Mr. Self was backing away from being Mr. Funding.
As the convention approached, the Trump team, what there was of it, was in full disarray. The antagonistic relationship with the RNC was deteriorating. Trump had no policies, no powerful surrogates, no plan, no swing state ground strategy, no advertising, and, we soon saw, no top-name supporters for the convention. What the Trump team had was baseball caps, which he wore proudly to rallies, with little evidence of a serious brain in the head underneath.
As a manager with national project roll-out experience, my conclusion became firm: Donald Trump had become the Accidental Candidate, and was not sure what to do about it. In spite of his decades of bluster, I remain convinced Trump knows he is a terrible manager, not very bright, and incapable of learning. He dare not confess any of this, but the record of his actions, failures, lashing out like an adolescent, and dumb remarks shows it to be true.
By the end of June, he had found himself faced with a mountain of work and hundreds of decisions to make. Trump does not like to work, nor has he the patience with reading or learning enough to make a rational decision. Licensing his name is not “work”, and requires no more than a few accountants and lawyers to do the actual thinking. Donald can simply fly around in his jumbo jet and play golf in his own country clubs, all in the name of “promotion”.
Life as President would be a form of imprisonment, by contrast.
His wife was not happy with the crazy notion of trading their isolated, private, leisurely luxurious life for the 24/7, minute-by-minute regimented, fishbowl existence of a President and his First Lady. His children may have been opposed, too, but we’ll never know the truth since they’re totally intimidated by their authoritarian father. Not to mention they have the prospect of receiving a hundred million dollars or more each for going along with him.
He was being pulled, maybe dragged, along by his advisors and associates, each of whom had a great deal to gain on the remote chance he could win in November, and as much to lose if he dropped out. Would Trump want to run if the only potential beneficiaries were a bunch of sleaze merchants and political opportunists? I very much doubt it.
All these factors must have given Trump grounds to simply walk away from the nomination before the convention bestowed it in mid-July. But, in my view, all these arguments to quit while he still could paled before a much larger reason.
Along with all his other personal characteristics, like them or dismiss them, Trump is a fighter. He has gotten himself into positions since he was a young man where he had to dig himself or lie his way out from under. In many cases, these situations ended up (or began) on the front page of New York’s tabloid newspapers. He loves publicity, especially when he’s winning a fight, or thinks he is, or thinks he can persuade his fans and detractors alike that he is.
But he’s had enough scrapes in the public eye to know that running for President would be the biggest fight he’d ever face. No doubt, back in the early primaries days, he relished this new kind of battle. Mano-a-bunch of manos! Wow! Knocking them off like so many dumb animals, trophies for his photo wall, proofs of his manliness. It must have been highly energizing for this self-centered, egoistic TV “star”.
Then, after Clinton secured her nomination and turned the focus of her army and her dozens of bigly backers and surrogates on Trump, his view must have changed.
He must have finally understood that the fight with her was not going to be anything like his lightweight battles with the Stumbling Sixteen. He surely realized that every little screw-up or fraudulent or shoddy business deal, and his trail of bankruptcies was going to be brought to light by Clinton’s people or a ravenous media, hungry for signs of the mucky clay under Trump’s feet. He may have suddenly recalled all his bigoted, misogynistic, racist, sexist, mean-spirited remarks that were recorded or videotaped, and that would be dredged up and sprayed on him until even he had to hold his nose. Months of calling Hillary Clinton names were about to return to haunt him. Rally-fuls of absurd claims and lies were now going to be paraded by the national media, and in ads from Florida to Ohio. Years of casting doubts on our President’s citizenship were now going to be used as so many missiles of truth, making him nothing but a cheap White supremacist buffoon, and delivered by the very President he had tried for five years to humiliate.
Mocked mercilessly in his own words as he went down to possibly the greatest loss in American political history — that is what Trump faced as he looked down from his golden palace on the millions of people beneath supremely important Him. The vision of how all those millions he had dominated for so long now seeing his naked shallowness, greed, and utter fecklessness as a person, and worse, laughing at him where once they trembled in his presence: that vision is what, in your Truthteller’s judgment, gave him the most pause in the disorganized weeks before the Republican convention.
We will likely never learn how he mastered his anxieties and continued the quest. But we should not assume that his fears and frightening visions of the coming war were buried forever…