Monthly Archives: November 2016

Election 2016: Final Update!


So, it turns out just enough space opened up in my schedule today for a quick lunch-time update to my 88 hours to go post from Friday. This really will be the final one though, since I’m in vendor demos all day tomorrow, and then home to watch results!

If you recall from my last post, at this stage it really is all about margins and momentum. I’ve updated the tables from that post, and on the popular vote front we find:


Extremely amusingly, despite plenty of movement in the individual components, the net effect is that each candidate went down slightly over the past three days, and they have the same net today that they did on Friday. No evidence of further last-minute movement toward Trump, and, based on these numbers, and assuming a roughly 6% third party vote and 50/50 split of the 4.5% remaining undecided, we’d end up with Clinton 48.9% to Trump 45.2%. Now, 3% is around a typical poll’s irreducible error-margin, so the end result could be higher or lower, but we can say that Clinton looks to be ahead outside any margin of error.

In the swing states that actually matter for the electoral college, we see the following (I’ve added Michigan, since a flurry of activity from both campaigns seems to indicate they think that it could be in play (or else they’re trying to fake each other out, which does happen)):


As one might expect this late in the campaign, nobody’s moved all that much- all margins are up or down within a half percent of where they were Friday. It does dispel the notion that Trump is having any kind of last-minute surge, though. Given the margin and momentum, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania don’t really seem to be swingy, which would lead to this map:


This is about where we were on Friday- Clinton is one shy of the 270 needed, and for Trump to win he would have to take all six remaining swing states and the split electoral vote from Maine. He’s only leading in two of the six (Iowa and Ohio), and in one of the six (New Hampshire) Clinton has a steady lead with no signs of further erosion. If this holds, it would make her President, as follows:


In which case the remaining three states would be superfluous, although victory in Nevada would help pad out her map, and North Carolina or especially Florida would make it possible to experience an upset loss in one or more other states and still pull through. All-in-all, not a bad place for her to be. And early voting totals in all three states are looking very good for Clinton, especially Nevada, where a surge in Latino voters has already banked enough votes that Trump would have to beat Clinton by double-digits on election day to still take the state.

I don’t have time to do pretty graphic inserts for all our other indicators. But it doesn’t really matter, because they aren’t too different from Friday, and, crucially, not a single one favors Trump:


While Clinton’s lead in the popular vote and her probable margin in the electoral college has gone up and down, it’s worth remembering that, over the last 6 months, Trump only ever had a lead for an aggregated total of eight days:


Exactly as one would suspect from this, it is much more likely than not that Hillary Clinton will be elected the next President of the United States tomorrow.


Election Check-in: 88 Hours To Go!


Well, here we are, the Friday before the election. Almost made it, America! And, in contrast to how it might have seemed ten days ago, it’s looking like it could be a lively and interesting night on November 8th. We’ll check in on several of our standard indicators, but really at this point it’s all about margins and momentum. So let’s take a look at that.

First, let’s look at the movement in three leading poll aggregators over the last week. RCP is the most “conservative”, in the sense that it takes a small set of polls, and only does a straight mathematical average. HuffPost is the most “liberal” in the sense that it includes almost all polls, and then does regression adjustments on them. is a data-rich medium, which includes a wider array of polls than RCP, but more selectively than HuffPost, and weights them according to historical accuracy of the pollster, and makes adjustments for historical partisan bias of various pollsters. These three averages include some of the same data across them, some different, and treat it in three different ways. If we average them all, we get:


There are a couple of things to note here. First, Trump has definitely gained over the last week, but he hasn’t done so at the expense of Clinton, who’s average all-in is unchanged. The most likely explanation is that Republican-leaning voters who had been on board with Johnson or undecided are now coming home to the Republican party in the wake of the latest FBI kerfluffle. Second, Clinton’s lead is probably outside a margin of error of roughly 3%, albeit narrowly.

What if we assume the same thing happens over the next four days that did over the last week? That would leave Clinton unchanged at 47%, and gain Trump another 1.7% to bring him to 45%. At this point, assuming current Johnson+Stein polling of around 6% is right, that would leave just 2% undecided. Looking at the makeup of the current undecided/uncertain vote, there’s no clear indication of a decisive break toward either Clinton or Trump. This is kind of a Trump “best case” (all remaining movement is toward him, and he gets a 50-50 split of undecideds), and it still ends up with Clinton-Trump 48%-46%.

The rub, of course, is that the popular vote doesn’t determine who becomes President. The Electoral College does. Looking again at our above three poll averagers, and adding in DailyKos, who doesn’t do a  national polling average but does track individual states, we see the following movement in what are commonly considered “swing states”over the past week. Since it’s a lot of data, I’m just listing the margin between the two candidates (+ for favoring Clinton, – for favoring Trump):


The same shift toward Trump in National margin is apparent in every state, sometimes to a  greater extent, sometimes less. The other thing that you immediately notice is that some of these aren’t really swing states at all. Colorado and Pennsylvania have Clinton margins outside the margin of error, and remain in her column even if Trump makes further gains over the next 4 days equal to what he did the past week. Similarly, Georgia has a Trump margin that’s unlikely to go anywhere. Adding these to the “safe” map for each candidate, you get the following:


You could look at this map, in conjunction with the state numbers above, in two ways:

  1. This is a pretty good map for Clinton. Even with further shifts against her, she probably has 269 electoral votes, and Trump can only win if he takes all 7 swing states, and peels off one of the electoral votes in Maine (one of two states that splits its electoral votes). Clinton currently has leads in three of them, and Nevada is 50-50.
  2. This is an extremely borderline map for Clinton. She still has leads in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Florida , but if the next four days see further movement for Trump equal to the last week, all these leads could go away.

So, in other words, Clinton very likely is headed toward a popular vote win. But even if she’s ahead nationally, the following three electoral college maps are all plausible (I’m splitting Maine in one of them, but not fiddling with the outside chance that McMullin takes Utah, which is an additional wildcard):


I would advise looking carefully at the updated state averages on Monday (I may publish an update Monday if I have time, but my schedule is looking dicey). In the meantime, let’s take a look at what various sources are saying. Because saying that all three outcomes are possible (or even a larger Clinton blowout, or Clinton collapse) is not the same as saying that they’re all equally likely, and your best bet is still look at an array of indicators.

Even after the FBI scare, Clinton still has about a 6 point edge in lower net unfavorability compared to Trump:

The RCP “No Toss Ups” Map shows the following:


The DailyKos forecast model has this:

HuffPost’s model shows the following:’s 10,000 simulations a night are returning the following averages:


And is currently showing:


Note that 538 shows a much lower confidence level than the others. What this essentially boils down to is a difference not over what the polls are saying, but how likely it is that the polls themselves are wrong. builds into its model a higher chance that, although state totals indicate a Clinton victory, there could be a polling error of a magnitude such that the polls are wrong. Not a 100% chance, but not zero either, thus they end up around 70/30 instead of the 90%+ that the others are at.

The aggregated betting markets at are somewhere in-between these two levels:


And, finally, President Obama’s approval rating remains at a level that could indicate Democratic victory:


With less than four days to go, based on the preponderance of all available indicators, Hillary Clinton is quite likely to be elected the next President of the Untied States on Tuesday. There is one final relevant indicator: You.