Election 2016: One Month To Go!


Technically, 31 days, but that’s monthish. And, I mean, how many of us felt like we would never even make it this far? Even better than our group survival thus far, the data is now worth looking at as well.

If you recall some of our earlier analytical forays, a year out, any poll is just about worthless. At 6 months, they’re still not very indicative. By two weeks after both conventions are over, they start to be meaningful. And right about this point, 10 days or so after the first debate, they actually have a pretty strong correlation with final results. So, keeping that in mind, here’s how things look.

On the favorability front, Clinton continues to experience a net unfavorability unprecedented for a major party’s nominee. But, crucially, her gap has closed to single digits post-debate, and remains significantly lower than Trump’s also historically unprecedented unfavorabilty:

We’re probably now at the stage where this gap in their gaps, which has been consistent for months, matters. On the actual how-people-will-vote polling front, Clinton was already on an upswing from her mid-September lows before the first debate. Since then, her position has been further consolidated while Trump’s has turned back down:


Whereas RCP does a straight poll averaging, HuffPost’s Pollster has a somewhat different averaging method that includes trendline results, and is showing an even wider margin for Clinton:


State-by-state, the effect of this net change has been dramatic. When they were within a point of each other, her Electoral College margin was a razor-thin 272-266. The current 4-point national lead has swung several of the swing states back from pink to light-blue, and the RCP no toss-ups map currently looks like this:


270towin.com’s simulator runs 10,000 simulations a night based on averages of all recent state polling, and it has Clinton winning more than 90% of the time:


The crucial caveat is, of course, that the election is not being held today. 538.com’s model projects out the 31 days from now result based on current state polling, with weighting based on the pollster’s history of reliability and partisan bias, and further trendline adjustments based on demographic correlation between states and whether the national polls show a variance to state totals. They then run 20,000 simulations a night. Their “polls-only” model is currently showing the following:

pollsonlyThey also have a “polls-plus” version that includes what you would expect for the incumbent party based on economic performance in the mix. As election day approaches, the two converge, since it’s assumed this is increasingly “priced in” to the polls. This model remains a little more conservative than “polls-only”, and it is showing the following:


It’s always nice to have someone else doing the math too as a sanity-check. DailyKos employs a predictive model that similarly uses regressions and trendlines, and is producing broadly similar results to 538.com:

Meanwhile, the betting markets have several thousand users who are actually ponying-up on what they expect the result to be. Predictwise.com aggregates the results from several of these markets, and they are strongly expecting Clinton to win:


Finally, we can look at the incumbent party President’s approval rating. Obama has had a net positive rating for about 6 months, has been above 50% since August, and has trended up even more strongly in the last few days:


There are other factors that we could examine data on: Clinton has a strong edge over Trump in field offices in key swing states, while Trump is doing very well with White Men without a College Degree, he is actually doing worse than Romney among White voters overall, and the uncertainty in the forecasts is decreasing as fewer undecided and third-party voters remain. These factors, and every one of the above indicators, signal that Clinton remains the likely winner.

Could there be an unexpected change? Always yes. But Wikileaks has pretty much fizzled out on having an October surprise up its sleeves, the pluses and minuses of both candidates are well known, and high-magnitude changes at this stage of a campaign are unusual. We’ll check in again on October 26th, and see how it looks with all three debates concluded, and only two weeks remaining!



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