Trump cannot break through his armor-plated solid ceiling. He is stubbornly at 40% and will even see a bit of erosion of that by election day. Hillary will win the election by landslide. But because of Third Parties, she’ll only get to 13%. Note this is now a downgrade of my forecast from August.
I think we have enough data now to know how the election goes. Its a landslide for Hillary. I’ve worked through the scenarios and am convinced that current data supports the view the election will be a 13% landslide for Hillary. We’ve seen all major aspects of both campaigns, VP picks, Conventions, fund-raising, campaigning, staff, volunteers, surrogates, strategy, technology, and now finally, also the debating. Hillary will win this election hands-down. The current polling does not capture how bad it will be for Trump.
The polling after the debate shows currently only a 4% advantage for Hillary in four-way polls (that include Johnson and Stein). There are 6% undecideds. In any normal election, the undecideds ‘split’ between the candidates, in very rough terms similar to late polling, but may ‘break’ to one side or another. I believe this year is an exception to that rule. I believe Trump has truly hit his ceiling and cannot break through. Trump’s peak polling was at 41.5%. He is now at 40.5% and coming down from that peak. In no other election, in the last weeks, when the number of undecideds shrinks, does one side LOSE support. Trump’s support should be growing, as some fraction of the undecided vote that keeps shrinking. Instead, Trump’s support is ERODING. Hillary is gaining, the third-party vote stays about stable (Johnson slight decline, due to his own campaign stumbles) but Trump is yes, doing what no other candidate at this point has done. He is not picking up any of the undecided voters. He is actually contributing out from his past support, into the undecided pile. That means he is toast. He cannot win this election.
I am now convinced that Trump discovered a solid ceiling to his support, around July, of about 40%. Where any sane politician would then try to break through that ceiling appeal to moderate voters in the middle, abandon any divisive rhetoric, and try to appear human and relatable, Trump has raged one war against a voter group after another, from promising stop-and-frisk to black voters, to offending Gold Star family survivors of war casualties, to shaming a Hispanic woman for her weight, to bragging about not paying taxes to disparaging war veterans with mental after-effects. This has endeared Trump to the ‘Deplorable’ voters (racists, bigots, sexists, homophobes and various other haters) but it also only armor-plates his solid ceiling. Trump could not break through his 40% ceiling now if he deployed nuclear weapons upon it. Trump’s fate is sealed.
This election result will be decided now on what is the share of the remaining 60% that will not vote for Trump. About 45% are already in Hillary’s camp. She has already won. Both Johnson and Stein have peaked, but they may hold onto some proportion of the vote and might pick up fractions of percents by election day. Their ability to outperform is severely limited in that they have no national organization of a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation, that Hillary and the Democrats have. If very lucky, Johnson and Stein might hold what they now have. Hillary will take the vast lion’s share of undecided votes left. So what is the proportion of Johnson, Stein and the wacky late-late campaign of a few-states-only McMullin ex CIA dude from Utah who is also a Mormon, conveniently for Utah. In very rough terms give or take a point, we should see 6%, 2% and 1% for Johnson, Stein and McMullin+all others. Thats 9%. If we give Trump 40%, the others 9% that gives Hillary a double-digit landslide victory of 11% with her national vote total at 51%.
That is what the picture will look like, roughly, on the night before the election, based on the last polls. Give or take a point. Lets say on the weekend before the election through Monday, the last polls averaged with maybe 3% undecided, then we could see polls saying 48% Hillary, 40% Trump, 6% Johnson, 2% Stein, 1% McMullen and Others and 3% undecided. Because none of those last 3% will go to Trump, the ACTUAL meaning of that poll is 51% Hillary, 40% Trump, 6% Johnson, 2% Stein and 1% McMullen, when all undecideds are allocated. Except that will NOT BE THE ELECTION RESULT.
Because of the Democratic party’s powerful GOTV machine, they will now turn this polling result (an 11 point margin) into an even BIGGER election drubbing. They will turn out more of the Democratic vote than Trump can turn out Republicans or Johnson, Stein or McMullin turn out their voters. That advantage is going to be at least 2 more points for Hillary. Hence the election night result, counted November 9 (and days thereafter) to be 52% Hillary, 39% Trump, 6% Johnson, 2% Stein, 1% Johnson. Hillary will win by 13% in November. This huge election wave will mean all battleground states go to Hillary that Obama won in 2012 against Romney including now poorly-polling Iowa and Ohio. Hillary wins Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, etc. So by those states alone, Hillary has already matched Obama of 2012.
Hillary also picks up the currently contested states that Obama lost, but some count as battlegrounds also, of North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. These states would mean that the 2016 election result will be at least as bad as how much John McCain lost to Obama in 2008. But Hillary picks up more. South Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi will vote for Hillary. And yes, Texas goes blue too. On a 13 point landslide, Hillary wins Texas too. Beyond those, it gets difficult, can Hillary get to Indiana or Alaska or Montana or other more red states, that we have to see. And Utah could go any of three ways, McMullin I think will steal it, but it could stay with Trump, or it could be stolen by Hillary because McMullin and Trump will split most of the Republican vote and Johnson is also in the mix messing it up more.
I predict Hillary picks up the Senate (and that means she also flips the balance of the Supreme Court) but now, differing from my last forecasts, I no longer think the Democrats have enough in this election to flip the House. They will close the difference to only a handful of seats, but now, a month out, I do forecast that the House will remain in Repulican hands, which means a divided government, and unprecedented gridlock, as the Republican-controlled House will have lost many of its more moderate Republicans and the Tea Party will be in its strongest position of its short life, and that will make compromise government legislation almost impossible to achieve. We may see a series of government shut-downs in Hillary’s first 2 years, thanks to the Tea Party.
My forecast as of 4 October 2016, for the 2016 election is:
Hillary 52%, Trump 39%, Johnson 6%, Stein 2%, McMullin and others 1%. Hillary gets a 13% landslide. The election turnout will be about 135 million votes cast.
Hillary gets 422 EV votes, Trump 110 and McMullin 6.
Trump only wins 18 states (Hillary 32 states plus DC). Hillary runs a clean sweep of the battlegrounds including North Carolina (and Iowa and Ohio where Trump is currently ahead in the polling). Of the ‘wild’ states on the wish list for Democrats, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri and yes... Texas will go blue.
Before you laugh, I calculated on this blog back in August of last year, that Trump could win the GOP nomination (not the first in the world, but one of a handful of sites that didn’t start by believing in Trump, but was convinced by the early numbers. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another who said Trump could win, back in August 2015). I also predicted the GOP primary race - in January before any votes were cast - where I called the result, the top 3 finalists, the exact date when Trump clinches, and the percent of how many votes he’d take by the time his rivals quit. I predicted accurately the end dates of when both of his strongest rivals quit, and I even got Trump’s actual number of states he’d win - off by one state. This while a third of those states had no polls published whatsoever, by January. I challenge you to find anyone with a published primary forecast more accurate about Trump than mine that came out any time before Iowa voted. I’m not a ‘Trump hater’ who thinks he could not win. I was one of the first to say he WILL win his nomination. As to Presidential elections, I’ve called them pretty well too. In 2012, my forecast published on this blog got 49 of 50 states that Obama won which is as good as the cherished Nate Silver.
Now, if you’d like to know WHY I think that Hillary will win by 13 points, then yes please read my analysis. This is a long detailed facts and numbers filled article of nearly 10,000 words. Its like one full chapter in one of my bestselling hardcover tech telecoms books. Get yourself some coffee first. This will take you about half an hour to read
LAST PIECE TO THE PIE WAS THE DEBATING
The first debate was a week ago. We’ve seen all genuine polls unanimously say Hillary won the first debate. Decisively. At an average, those who say she won outnumber those who felt Trump won, by a massive two-to-one margin. So if 25% thought Trump won, 50% thought Hillary won (or 30% vs 60%, that type of numbers). I am obviously ignoring the overnight first internet fan vote-stuffing contests where Trump’s Russian cyberarmy came to stuff votes for Trump in those fake ‘polls’ where you can go vote several times.
We’ve also seen the actual movement in the national polls but it was only modest. The average of the first six polls out since the debate, show a movement in Hillary’s favor of only 2.1 points, up from 1.6% to 3.7%. Still, at this point, after the first debate, Hillary is more ahead of the race than Obama was in 2008 against John McCain or in 2012 Obama was against Romney.
Similarly over a dozen in-state polls from battleground states have come out, and they signal that the race has shifted in those states, by an average of about 4% vs the RCP average in those states just prior to the debate. Its clear Hillary won the debate and its clear she got a modest bounce out of the debate. But even if we take only those latest 6 polls, and allocate the undecided vote proportionately, the race stands now at 4.0% advantage for Hillary and its still not that far apart.
This race by its national polling average in a four-way election (with Gary Johnson the Libertarian and Jill Stein the Green candidate included) is still slightly behind the stage of where the Obama-Romney election finished in 2012. That was a 5% election (52% vs 47% vs 1% others). Note, however, that at this point in the race (after the first debate) Hillary is FAR ahead of where Obama was in 2012. Arguably she is doing better. By the post-debate polling in battleground states, Hillary is crushing Trump now, and holding a lead of 322 Electoral College (EV) votes vs 216 for Trump, nearly where Obama ended with Romney. It would be fair to say, Hillary is ahead, is the prohibitive favorite to win the election and today’s polling suggests her election victory is likely to be somewhere and slightly below Obama in 2012 in single digits, somewhere in the +3% to +5% range if you want to give numbers. Thats a fair reading of where the race stands today. Furthermore, essentially all major forecasters say Hillary is ahead and the betting markets also agree with this assessment.
MY ORIGINAL FORECAST
I made a forecast about this election right when it became clear to me (but was not yet clear by the math) that the race was Hillary vs Trump, in March of 2016. At that time, anticipating a normal two-person race, I gave my forecast as a 20% election bloodbath destroying Trump, flipping the Senate, even flipping the gerrymandered House and of course, also flipping the balance of the Supreme Court, meaning a total utter crushing election massacre of the Republicans by the Democrats. I predicted a 60% to 40% election result for Hillary. That, VERY deep analysis (while yes I made guesses that went wrong on VP choices) had a lot of insight into what has now happened in the past six months from things like Hillary’s massive fund-raising advantage, to Trump’s infighting within the party, to the vast array of surrogates Hillary will have and Trump will not. The most critical item in that analysis is the demographics math which to me, in March, told the undeniable story, Hillary has won this election already.
The 2012 Romney loss led to a Republican party ‘autopsy’ on the loss, authored by Reince Priebus. In it they were clear, the Republican party had to change for 2016. It had to appeal to blacks, to Hispanics, to women, to youth voters and they had to build a data-driven voter turnout machine for 2016, or they could not win in 2016. In the interim 4 years, the Republican party looked at this like a cancer patient who received clear instructions from his doctor. But then, against his doctor’s advice, that cancer patient goes on a self-destructive rampage, instead of stopping smoking, eating healthy and starting excersise, the patient increased smoking, went on binge junkfood diet and locked himself in his bedroom. The absolute banal lunacy of doing exactly the opposite of what the doctor ordered. That was the GOP for the past 4 years. To top it off, the party then nominated Donald Trump, a man who is scored worst of all the 17 Republican candidates on all those scores, worst among women, worst among blacks, worst among Hispanics, worst among youth voters and who said ‘I don’t believe in data’ and refused to spend money on building a modern voter data system.
That was March of 2016. I calculated out the math, and I concluded, Trump cannot get past 40% in this election, there are not enough white men to get him there. I stand by that analysis and think its an incredibly astute analysis of the election of 2016, when written in March. In that blog I then published my astonishing forecast. This means Hillary wins 60/40 and the election will be of the scale of Walter Mondale’s loss to Ronald Reagan in 1984 (18%) and George McGovern’s loss to Richard Nixon in 1972 (22%).
FORECAST WAS MODIFIED
Obviously any forecast has to then be monitored against reality on the ground, what things happen in the real world. There were big events coming like the VP selections, the Conventions and the debates, that often swing the election even strongly. Sarah Palin’s announcement in 2008 wiped out Obama’s strong lead over McCain and essentially gave McCain an 8% bounce (but she then turned out to be a mirage and ended up hurting McCain more than helping by election day). The Conventions usually produce bounces for the Candidates and the debates can swing a race by 5 points easily like they did in 2012 with the first debate where Romney bested a sleepy disinterested Obama. Those things all mattered yes, but the big change in this year’s race since my March forecast was the emergence of third party candidates. Johnson and Stein quickly took ten percent or more of the total vote. Trump has in the past four months been stuck at just about 40% (as per my original forecast) but because of the third party vote, Hillary didn’t get then to 60%. She’s that unpopular that its very easy for disgruntled voters to go to ‘anyone else please’ and thus the easy appeal of the protest candidates. So its telling that in the 4-way polling since May by RCP average, Trump has polled in a tight band of between 35% and 42%. And Hillary has polled in a band between 38% and 44%. Johnson peaked at 9% and Stein at 5%. They are both now coming down in their support levels. Their combined support peaked at 13% momentarily early on but even recently were taking 12% of total votes as recently as mid September.
Its possible that Trump has a natural ceiling at 40% and the various polls jumping around have merely reflected the frustration of the 60% deciding between how many go with Hillary, how many like one of the protest candidates, and who are truly undecided. Its telling that in the past four months, Hillary has worked tirelessly at appealing to moderate voters in the middle, and improving her poor favorability ratings; while Trump has just appealed to his base, repelling any moderate voters and making his favorability ratings worse. Hillary’s standing in Gallup’s weekly polling of favorability ratings stood at -19% in July. She had a positive rating from 38% of voters and a negative rating from 57%. At that time, Hillary’s peak unfavorability, she was nearly as bad as Trump and if we don’t include Trump, Hillary would have been setting the US election record for least liked candidate in the history of polling.
But there was Trump. Trump was worse in July. Trump was seen favorably by 36% of voters and unfavorably by 59% for the highest-ever-measured unpopularity rating of -23%. Note they were close to tied, Trump at -23% and Hillary at -19%. Then Hillary worked to improve her popularity, while Trump worked to worsen his. By the end of August, Trump had sunk to -28%, while Hillary improved a bit to -16%. Now, at the end of September Trump has fallen even more to -30% and is again breaking his own record for most disliked politician ever to run for President. Only 33% of voters like him and 63% dislike Trump for a rating of -30%. Hillary has again improved where 42% like her, still 54% dislike her, and her rating has again gotten better, while still underwater, at -12%. In mathematical terms, Trump’s unfavorable rating is 2.5 time as bad today, as is that of Hillary. If these trends continue one more month, Hillary’ will be in single digits in her unpopularity, maybe -8%, and Trump will be four times as disliked, at -32%.
It is vital to understand, Trump is not even TRYING to appeal to moderate voters, he is instead only appealing to his base supporters, the ‘Deplorables’ who are racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamaphobes etc. So his image is only getting worse. Hillary, however, is working continuously to try to improve her standing. So while some random ‘I hate both’ voter from July, had at that time genuinely ‘as bad’ an image of both candidates, its likely the image of Trump has gotten at least a little bit worse, and Hillarys image has gotten at least a little bit better. This means, for the undecided and disgusted voter, Hillary is emerging as the palatable if not liked choice, in that case.
TRUMP REINFORCING HIS CEILING
If the race looked like Trump can’t get past 40% on election day, when viewed from March, then bizarrely Trump has only acted to guarantee that. Its not like Trump is attempting to break through his polling ceiling; its rather as if he is trying to armor-plate that solid ceiling with reinforced concrete and hardened steel. There is no way in the last five weeks of this race that Trump can change his image to be highly beloved. BUT Hillary is slowly improving her popularity.
On August 1, after the Conventions and VP selections, I made my update to my forecast. I said Hillary can’t get to 20% election victory because of the new third-party candidates but Trump can’t get past his 40% either. I sensed Trump was so self-destructing his campaign, feuding with his own party, etc that he would fall below that 40% and the overall election I predicted would have Hillary at an 18% landslide victory (size of Reagan re-election over Mondale in 1984). At that time I expected Hillary to follow out of the Conventions with a polling lead (which happened) and that would gradually grow to the debates (which did not happen). I then said Hillary would win the debate (which happened giving her a bounce) which happened. So as of now, Hillary is not nearly as far ahead as I expected. I warned in my 1 September update, that the 18% looks less likely and perhaps a 16% election result is more like the final result. Now I am ready to lower that a little bit more. And don’t worry, she’ll still be winning by double digits and Trump is still stuck at not getting past 40%. But let me explain my reasoning.
DEPLORABLES AND PEAK TRUMP
That 40% solid Trump support is very well captured in Trump’s claim from the early primary race: he could shoot somebody and his fans would not desert him. That is true. Trump has incredibly hardened loyal support of his deplorables. They are mostly white, mostly men, mostly older, mostly less educated. They seem to hark back to the time of the TV show Little House on the Prairie, where the man of the house was smart and everybody loved him and adored him and respected him. There were no blacks or Taco Trucks or Muslims or Jews or Mormons or gays in the neighborhood. It was peaceful and a simpler time and boy, that was America. Good to be an older white man, even if not well educated. And women knew their place.
Trump is losing the white college-educated female vote. Thats his armored ceiling right there. He has appealed to the Deplorables, he gets the KKK supporters and ‘Alt Right’ Nazis to come and Heil Hitler his events, but Trump can’t get black support (Trump got 0% of black support in Detroit in one survey AFTER Trump’s ‘black outreach’ visit to Detroit). Trump repels Hispanics. The youth are not joining him. Women despise him, he has the highest gender gap ever measured and only growing. Its now at about 20% nationally (Romney lost women by 9% to Obama). Trump cannot win. And his Campaign is now actively destroying the reputation of the Republican party with women, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, all other minorities, gays, even damaging the party’s reputation with people who struggled with weight.
Trump does appeal to white older dumber men. Fox viewers. Thats why Fox hires blonde skinny young bimbos so they appeal to men. And where other networks also hire minorities and have a far more diverse base of news people including people of considerable weight, on Fox you can only be overweight if you’re an older white man. Its the news network that is the best fit obviously for Trump voters. If Fox had nearly half of the nation’s voters, that could make sense to design a campaign only to appeal to Fox viewers, but women also vote. So with CNN and MSNBC and the 3 major networks ABC, CBS and NBC, no, getting all of Fox viewers to vote for you, will never get you elected. But it might get you close to 40%.
Fox was built on very sexist (and sexually predatory) means by Roger Ailes, since fired for sexually harassing 20 employees. Where is Ailes? He’s advising Trump on his campaign and especially his debates. Then Trump’s campaign boss, Stephen Bannon. He’s from Breitbart, the digital home of the ‘Alt-Right’ ie the KKK and neo-Nazi ‘White Supremacist’ political fringe. There was a Tweet I saw that apparently all Alt-Right supporters are feverishly volunteering for their guy, Trump. We’ve seen them infiltrate the Trump team from the California Nazi who tried to get into the Convention as a delegate, to the local state boss in Ohio who just resigned for being openly racist.
The more moderate, more educated, and saner parts of the Republican party were in the ‘never Trump’ camp and have long since soured on Trump. Some are ‘coming home’ reluctantly to vote for their party’s nominee, like Ted Cruz. But that is now a tiny slice left, and that is balanced essentially evenly by the exodus of disappointed and disgusted Republicans who were for Trump and now desert him. The ‘exit’ of disgruntled Trumpsters is ‘too easy’ because of Gary Johnson. While he is on the Libertarian ticket, he is a long-time Republican who was the Governor of New Mexico. His VP choice William Weld is another long-term Republican, the former Governor of Massachussetts. So if you were with Trump, can’t vote for Hillary, and you just now become disgusted by something Trump said or did today, there is a ‘safe’ harbor to go register your protest vote - Johnson. As Trump continues his war against sanity, that is where sane Republicans go (first).
JOHNSON IS A GATEWAY DRUG TO HILLARY
Then we get an interesting dynamic. The person has ABANDONED Trump. So Trump is no longer a viable option. Then that voter starts to look seriously at Johnson (he’s a loonie) or Gill Stein (well, thats a communist if there ever was one, for any registered Republican voter, haha, she’s more to the left of Bernie Sanders). And there is.. but she’s a Clinton! Wait.. lets watch that debate. What was it that my CONSERVATIVE newspaper wrote. What did Barbara Bush say? Who is Daddy Bush voting for? And slowly, a tiny slice of those abandoning Trump will take a serious look at Hillary. And hey, she is not a firebrand communist pinko like Obama. Hillary is actually rather ‘sane’ from a Republican point-of-view especially on her stands on the military, foreign policy, nuclear weapons, terrorism, TRADE, economy, taxes... So she’s a Democrat. If you can’t vote for Trump and discover Johnson smoked a bit too much weed, then maybe you write in a write-in candidate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or John Kasich, or maybe, just maybe, you hold your nose and vote for Hillary. Just this once.
Johnson is a kind of ‘gateway drug’ to bring Republican voters to Hillary. The vast array of conservatives (mostly moderate ones) who actually support Hillary will make that easier. Johnson himself, with Aleppo and the inability to remember any foreign leader, is also making it easier. But once Trump says or does something truly vile (for an individual voter) like maybe that voter has a daughter who was fat-shamed and has a big self-confidence problem because of it - that may slice off just one quarter of one percent of Trump voters, fathers or mothers, who now decide, sorry Trump. That was the last straw. Then they won’t rush to Hillary - they go to Johnson. Most will stay with Johnson till election day - BUT many who HAVE come to Johnson, will find him also a dumb vote, and then some of those will come to Hillary.
I am certain Trump can’t get over 40% in the final election. But he won’t fall much below that either. This debate result tells me so. Trump lost by two to one. Many older men were watching Monday Night Football (Trump core supporters). This debate audience was significantly more women than men. And yet, even as polls say 9% changed their minds based on the debate, Hillary did not see a big bounce out of it. Trump’s Deplorables will remain with him. He can’t break his solid ceiling. But his supporters can’t escape either. 40% is a ‘lock’ for Trump. If he has a ‘disaster’ then it might be down to 36% but I doubt that. I really think its somewhere in a very tight band of 38% to 40% and very likely almost exactly 40%. But he won’t get to 41%.
And lets be very clear about this. The RCP average for Trump has also peaked. He was at 41.5% at his personal peak. But now, with the closing weeks of the campaign, the undecided voter numbers shrink. Voters decide. The number of ‘undecideds’ is declining (its 5.8% today). In EVERY election that I monitored the stats, last 32 years, the undecideds go to BOTH sides. Every election has ALWAYS worked like this. They go roughly in the proportion of support but not exactly. One side may get more, but BOTH sides get undecided voters.
Not with Trump. Since that peak, Trump’s numbers have SHRUNK while the undecided number becomes smaller! In mathematical terms, it does mean, the voters go ‘anywhere else except to Trump’ and ALSO simultaneously some Trump supporters are QUITTING him. He is not gaining. Hillary is gaining (and recently, a little bit to Jill Stein, previously a bit to Johnson, and now a little bit also to McMullen). Here is an illustration of how the voters will shift:
All 'yellow' voters in the illustration have to go somewhere and they won't go to Trump. Note the dotted line, Trump cannot gain any voters he can only lose some. Trump will bleed voters primarily to Johnson and McMullin but some slight number will go straight from Trump to Hillary. Then the two gateway locations, Johnson and McMullin, they will gain votes from Trump and from Undecideds, and will bleed, Johnson a lot, mostly to Hillary but also to McMullin and a tiny slice even to Stein. Now the Undecideds, they go mostly to Johnson, Hillary and Stein, but some also go to McMullin (because he is not available in most states on the ballot). And now look at Stein, she gains votes from Undecideds and a think slice from Johnson, but bleeds to Hillary. And Hillary, she doesn't bleed any voters. She only gains. Some come directly from Undecideds. Some come from Johnson or Stein. And tiny slices also come from McMullin and directly from Trump. Someone only leaks support (Trump) and someone only gains support (Hillary). Exact percentages will of course need to be seen, but this model will describe how the last voters were allocated. The net loser will be Trump. The big net gainer will be Hillary.
The undecided vote is avoiding Trump. This has never happened in any US Presidential election that I have monitored, for the two main candidates. This fact tells me, there is indeed a solid, impenetrable ceiling that Trump cannot get through. Its about 40% (he is today at 40.5% as the average of those first 6 polls after the debate). But Trump’s supporters are incredibly loyal, those 40% will not want to desert him, almost under any circumstances now. They want to stay with him till the bitter end.
FALSE SENSE OF A TIGHT CONTEST
If you go to RCP today (4 Oct) and go to the 4-way polls, you will see RCP average says the race is 2.9% for Hillary. Thats not a big lead. Its fair math (note it includes polls from before the debate which is why the average is that low, but most won’t even notice that). And there is one poll just from last week, that has Trump up by 1%, and even after the debate, Rasmussen showed Trump initially down by only 1%. You can find solace that this is a close race.
Then essentially anyone who has ever been involved in politics for a few rounds, understands that a 3 point lead is nothing in 5 weeks. There are 6% undecided voters. If you can can take 4.5% of those 6% and your rival gets only 1.5% - thats the 3% race right there. The race could be tied JUST because of the undecided vote, if it ‘breaks your way’ in the last weeks. Without any OTHER changes, and using the average at RCP, you can see a relatively easy and believable path to victory, just out of the undecideds, if you are a bit lucky in the last weeks.
And its CERTAINLY fair to say, if the race now is shown as 2.9%, then on election day, the MOST LIKELY election outcome is, that all undecideds are allocated exactly proportionately, and the end result is... 2.9% loss for Trump. Not a catastrophic loss (when you consider the other races like Senator, Governor, Congress, Mayor etc). Always the undecideds go to both sides, by some proportion. And a race that is 3% now, is likely to be CLOSE to 3% still on election day.
And it may well go that way. Except I believe the numbers now tell us, there is no more viable voters for Trump. He cannot grow. But he will shrink. Now consider the EXACT SAME math, but the altered situation. We have a 3 point race today. We have 6 points in undecideds. But those six will not go to Trump. Then the ABSOLUTE best case for Trump would be, if none of the six go to Hillary (but that’s never happened, and she is behaving rationally). So lets say only 1 point for Hillary and 5 points to the protest candiates. Hillary wins by 4%. Now consider the more likely outcome - the remaining six points go PROPORTIONATELY. Hillary gets 5 of the 6 points and 1 point goes mostly to Johnson. Now what is polled as a 3 point race, means Hillary wins by 8 points. Trump is still at 40%, but Hillary gets 48% and Johnson, Stein and McMullin split the remaning 12%.
If I am correct, and Trump has an ironclad ceiling that is unbreachable, then even by the current reported RCP numbers, the minimum Hillary will get is to win by 8 points. Except we - on this blog - know that the RCP numbers LAG (because the average includes polls from before the debate). The real race today is 4 points for Hillary. And the undecideds are at 6 points. And Hillary will definitely take about 5 points of those 6 (assuming my theory of never considering Trump) it means the REAL election result, based on polling today, because of Trump’s moronic campaigning, means Hillary is headed to a 9% election victory. This is BEFORE we consider 2 more debates that Hillary has with Trump (and the VP debate). This is before we consider the various news items still ahead, about Trump’s child-rape case, etc.
If the Republican party understood that they are currently 9 points in a hole, they’d have as big a panic as they had briefly in June, and again briefly in August when they were seeing polls showing a catastrophy touching double digit landslide loss. And all sane Republicans would distance themselves from Trump and the Deplorables. Now, instead, the Republicans are turning themselves into knots in trying to reconcile Trump views and still semi-support him. Like NH Senator Kelly Ayotte in a tough re-election fight just now, saying in her TV debate that Trump makes a good role model for kids (I betcha that will hurt her badly in her polling). If Ayotte knew that Trump is losing by 9 points, she’d be saying loudly in that debate that Trump is a vile human being and she isn’t going to vote for him. Haha. See what I mean, false sense of security?
So then the Republicans will say, but the silent majority. That there is this vast part of the population who do not show up to vote. They are 40% of the population (only about 60% of voting age people bother to vote in the USA) and if Trump can get that ‘silent majority’ to show up at the polls, he will win. And they are often perhaps a bit ashamed of why they support Trump, so they won’t tell the pollsters that they will vote for him. A silent majority of voters.
Ok, thats a fair argument. Now here is the reality. You CANNOT show up to vote, unless you are registered to vote. The USA requires special registration by each voter (except now the state of Washington has finally introduced automatic voter registration). Most of those 40% who do not vote, are also NOT REGISTERED. They cannot magically appear to vote, because they are not registered. They can’t vote. Their ‘silent’ protests will not count. The polls meticulously always measure both ‘Registered Voters’ and ‘Likely Voters’ so those silent majority types - they are already MEASURED. They can only exist, in a viable vote-changing way, among the registered voters - and there is no meaningful difference between RV polls and LV polls. In fact, Hillary leads a little bit MORE in most RV poll results, than in LV poll results by the same survey. So thats a silly argument that fails basic math. What else is new, Republicans are the anti-math party.
THE GET-OUT-THE-VOTE MACHINE
So now, we are in the last 35 days of the race. The early voting has already started in a few states and shortly half of all states will have some form of early voting going on. And the Hillary Clinton voter machine is the turbo-charged up-engined race-tuned version of Obama’s 2012 election-dominating ‘Narwhal’ machine. That went against Romney’s rival machine dubbed ‘Orca’. Narwhal cost over $100 million to build, had over 120 data scientists working on it for 18 months and altered a 1% race into a 5% victory, in other words it produced 4% bonus votes for Obama - EVEN as Romney ran a rival machine against it.
Hillary has a team of 60 full time data scientists expanding and up-gunning that machine now. (its 8% of Hillary’s paid staff). Trump TOTAL paid staff is 80, and he has apparently one pollster hired and may have 2 data guys but some story said that at least one of those was fired at some point. Trump has used an outside data company to do some of his analysis and data queries (so he sent for example fund-raising emails to politicians in Finland, the UK, Germany, Australia and Mexico - this is strictly prohibited). And Trump has also resorted to using the Republican party’s modest data processing tools not built for a Presidential run. There were a number of conflicts with those issues, on who has access to what data, and how was Trump using it.
Last cycle Obama collected 340,000 volunteers. Hillary is at least on pace to do that, she is likely to easily exceed that and may have as many as half a million. Romney last time had 40,000 volunteers (the most the GOP had ever amassed). Trump is lagging in all efforts, resources, funding, local offices, local tools, phone-banking etc to even reach out to recruit volunteers compared to Romney of 2012, while Hillary is far ahead of Obama 2012.
The TARGETING of effort by this staff and army of volunteers is critical. The Romney system of 2012 did not have each individual voter targeted and scored inside their data system. They only knew voting districts, so they focused their modest efforts to boost voter turnout in heavily-Republican voting districts (and they managed to do that too, Romney got bigger Republican turnout than McCain in battleground states). But note, a call to a home in an 70% Republican district would hit 30% of the time a Democratic voter household. And they had no way of tracking who had voted, or even who was a registered voter. Obama’s effort was pin-point precise, every single voter, 120 million registered Americans was in their system and in the battleground states, they knew to each individual voter who had voted and who had not. They also knew in battleground states - from an average of 3 contacts per voter - exactly who was an Obama supporter vs a Romney supporter. Thus they didn’t waste any effort calling voters who would go vote for the other side.
HILLARY IMPROVED, TRUMP WENT BACKWARDS
Now in this race. Hillary is already using the up-gunned version of that Narwhal system for her voter targeting. The Campaign had organized a ‘woman-call-woman’ day for their phone banks right on this week Tuesday. Only women-volunteers were scheduled that day, and all of those women were given only women voter-targets to call, to talk about the women’s issues that came up in the debate - to obviously capitalize on Hillary’s ambush of Trump at the end of the debate, with his attacks on women. This is the kind of Campaign targeting you cannot do if you don’t have the machine for it. And this machine was built and refined over 4 election cycles going back to Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004 which pioneered the use of the internet for US elections. In 2012 we found that the SIZE of the database of the Obama Narwhal machine was one of the 20 largest databases on the planet for any computer use, and by far the most detailed consumer data system ever devised in any industry.
On this I have good news and bad news. The Ted Cruz Campaign said earlier this year that a good data-driven Campaign can drive from 2% to 5% more voter turnout than one that doesn’t have it. The Cruz campaign actually measured this to be true. They still lost, but they ‘overperformed’ in their loss by that amount. We know it works. And that Hillary has it and Trump doesn’t. Or to be fair, Hillary’s system is STRONGER than the most powerful system ever made (ie Narwhal) and Trump’s meager trivial steps into that direction are far worse than what Romney had in 2012. It will account for a bonus in turnout for Hillary on election day.
But we on this blog also know how that helps and where. It helps where it is DEPLOYED. It doesn’t result in a uniform increase. It works specifically in those states where the system is meticulously built over the previous year, calibrated and used; and where the local staff is well versed in its functionality. That means a dozen states like Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. But not the whole country. It is not deployed in California or New York, those states will vote for Democrats anyway. It would be foolish to spend the money to drive up that vote. And its far too expensive to try to deploy in red states like Oklahoma or Kansas or Alabama, those states will end up red anyway, and this would only lessen Hillary’s losing margin. So we will see this kind of pattern:
In the middle are the ‘battleground states’. They will see a strong increase in their turnout for Hillary. But nationally the boost will be 4% like in 2012. That means, for all other states, compared to the average, their turnout will be down (2% vs the national average). As there are more voters in the other states, their turnout is down LESS per state, but still, we’ll see this ‘under-OVER-under’ pattern. In very red states that always vote Republican, Trump will do a bit better than it was thought. In the battleground states Hillary will do significantly better than thought. But in the blue states that tend to vote Democrat, Hillary will slightly under-perform again. Its because the voter turnout machine is not uniform across the country it will focus the effort to the critical states.
Here we have to monitor a few states right at the edge of red and purple. States like Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Indiana and Alaska. If Hillary has a ‘big cushion’ by the team’s own internal metrics, they will expand more into some of those states and deploy at least part of their battleground tools. BUT note, they will not now have enough time or resources to go talk to every voter. The effect will not be as strong as it would be in Ohio or Florida or Virginia or Colorado. We will see if the Campaign does that. They are active in Arizona (on a modest budget) and tinkered with Georgia and are hinting at Texas.
But unless the Hillary machine goes and deploys strongly within any of those modestly-red states, they will not gain the benefits of the Hillary GOTV and its related data systems.
So yes, no matter how big or small Hillary’s victory is over Trump, its clear to me, Hillary wins all ‘classic’ battleground states. Iowa will be a tough haul but the numbers look overwhelming even for Iowa. But yes, all states Obama won in 2012 including Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania. She also wins relatively easily North Carolina that Obama just lost in 2012. In addition to that, Hillary should get a win in Arizona so her Electoral College margin would be certain to be similar to Obama of 2008.
But then partly because of third parties and partly because of the precise targeting of her GOTV, the ‘rest of the wins’ will seem surprisingly ‘modest’ compared to the total national vote. A 10% election should deliver Texas, a 15% election should deliver Kansas. But once the ‘battleground’ states as selected by Hillary’s team end, and we get to ‘normal’ red states, in those states TRUMP will do marginally better than expected, simply because of the math of averages. You could say that to ensure she WINS, she abandons the scope of the size of her landslide. Against an unelectable candidate like Trump, you shouldn’t bother to target, you should just generalize haha.
So I do think Texas will fall, but it will be a long count. South Carolina, Missouri, Alaska, they might be at the fringe of how far Hillary can push into red states, and a big key is if she is willing to spend at least TV ad money into those states as she starts to secure her battleground states.
SURGES IN DEMOGRAPHICS
The vote will of course always be 100%. This year there will be a surge in voting for women voters. We don’t know how big or small that is, but that means the normal difference of about 4% more women vote than men, will be bigger. Maybe a slight surge to vote for the first-ever woman President, and the differeence is say 6% or maybe Hillary can drive up the vote, her unfavorabilities decrease in the next two debates, and Trump continues his wars on women, and the difference could be 10%. Note, this was NOT part of the Romney Autopsy. They knew there is a gender GAP. So women prefer Democrats to Republicans (by 9% in 2012). This year we know there will be a bigger gender gap, could be 20%. BUT that does not include a female voter SURGE which will ALSO happen.
Let me underline that point. The 2012 Autopsy by the GOP warned of the gender gap. That is real. It has gotten worse. It is even worse now, with Trump going against Hillary. And the gender gap by current polling is about 20%. But that IGNORES another - dramatic and earth-shattering effect: the female voter surge. Some voters who do not always vote, who are women, will show up this November, simply because its a woman to vote for, for the first time. We saw this phenomenon with Obama in 2008 and the black vote. There was a surge. The female surge is SEPARATE from the gender gap. And this - the surge is IMPOSSIBLE to poll accurately. So most pollsters do not even try. They have their election model assuming that turnout is similar to 2012. That 4% more women vote than men. But it could be 6% more women than men (a 2% increase in total vote, means approx 4% increase in in women vote) but it could be that 10% more women vote this year than men (a surge of 6 points, and compared to normal women vote, a surge of 12% in female vote). ALL of the surge goes to Hillary (ok a tiny teeny-weeny slice may go to the other woman, haha, yes, Stein). We can’t measure this surge. We can guess how big it is, but most pollsters have female/male polling balance set at around 4% meaning ‘no surge’.
Then we have the minority vote. Trump will not get more than 5% of the black vote (Romney got 8%) and Trump will not reach to 20% of the Hispanic vote (Romney got 27%). This is absolute certain guarantee that Trump loses this election. There are not enough white men to compensate for those deficiencies. About 30% of all votes will be minority votes this year.
But Trump has an incredibly loyal fanatical Deplorable base. He’ll get his 40%. Johnson has now peaked. He could end with 6%. Or it could be less. Stein and the other candidates combined could get to 3% or it could be less. At the absolute ‘best case’ for Trump, Hillary takes 51% and Trump loses by 11%.
But Johnson and Stein have no data operation or army of staffers or volunteers. They will underperform their last polling simply because Hillary DOES have a data operation and massive ground game. Hillary has an unprecedented range of surrogates and everybody from Bernie Sanders to President Obama is saying - a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump. Meanwhile both Johnson and Stein have peaked, they are weak candidates and not being in the debates highlights that they are pure protest votes. I think its safe to say, they will stay well under a combined vote of 9%.
SOME DEMORALIZED TRUMPSTERS
Lastly I think there will be a disappointment factor that will leave a small slice of Trumpsters to stay home, demoralized and not voting. We are now in the last five weeks of the race and there are several dozen Trump scandals that have been uncovered but most have not gotten their ‘proper’ investigative journalism treatment. Trump University, the Putin connection, the child labor/slavery accusations of his modeling agency, Trump Foundation, the Pam Bondi bribe, Trump Institute, etc. Just like how the Cuba mess just exploded as Newsweek Magazine ran the cover story about Trump and his Fidel Castro connection - dozens of stories like this have been researched and are ready to run - but many editors and publishers sat on the stories, because they did not want to anger Trump, because they wanted his patronage, not to be boycotted at his press pool (like the Washington Post was for 40 days) and so forth. But the time to run a big Trump story is now, in these 40 days, not two days after the election. So we hear of Trump using steel from China in his buildings and that he borrowed money from Iran that he so vilifies, etc.
We also have Trump’s child rape case going to court. It will be very embarrassing and will not help. The first debate showed us what the third debate will be like. Trump will lose badly. It doesn’t tell us how bad the second debate will be. It will be worse because Trump is singularly unsuited to do town-hall type of debates. This Trump campaign cannot improve its standing in the last 40 days. But it will get much worse. And as we’ve seen of the media, they have finally taken their gloves off, are calling Trump out for his constant lies and Trump’s safety net, massive media exposure is now turning into a trap as well.
So I do think when we combine the Hillary Clinton machine pushing its advantage to the end, replaying vile Trump words from the debates in TV ads, and all the surrogates singing the same song, gradually some Trump supporters will be peeled away. Not much. But my gut says, the final count of the election has Trump at 39% of the vote. I think Johnson and Stein and the others will get to a combined 9% (at 6%, 2% and 1%). Hillary therefore will get to 52% and have a 13 point massive landslide victory on November 8. This is a downgrade of my forecast from August 1, and reflects all the recent polling and seeing the first debate.
Obviously its an election and a week is a long time in politics. We had a brief health scare. A health episode (by either side) could radically change the race. A terrorist incident or some other freak outside event could still alter the race. But as it stands, absent any unforseen ‘acts of god’ and including my expectation of the outcomes of the remaining debates, I think its a safe double-digit victory for Hillary Clinton. 13 point election is how I call it now. Texas goes blue. The Senate is flipped. The House will stay, I think by a very thin margin of a few seats, with the Republicans (see below on that analysis). But yes, a 13 point election landslide in November for Hillary.
States picked up by Hillary that Obama lost in 2012: North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, and I’d say also South Carolina. Rest depend on if Hillary starts to deploy resources in Missouri, Alaska & Mississippi. Note Trump is likely to also lose Utah to the local boy, Ewan McMullin the ex CIA guy (or if she’s lucky, Hillary might, just might pick up Utah as McMullin, Trump and Johnson split the vast Republican vote of that state). Trump only wins 18 states (Hillary 32 states plus DC). Hillary gets 422 EV votes, Trump 110 and McMullin 6.
So the Senate race by RCP today shows a 50/50 likely outcome, based on the polls in the various Senate races. The Republicans pick up 1 seat (Nevada) and the Democrats 5 seats (Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Illinois). If the Senate ends up tied, 50/50, then the Vice President breaks the ties and this means if Hillary wins the election, Tim Kaine would spend a lot of time in the Senate breaking those ties to go with the Democrats.
But the current Senate polling is still a month out and the challengers have plenty of time to gather up speed. The Democrats have more money, highly beloved surrogates starting with Michelle Obama the most popular politician in the country, while many Republicans don’t even want to be seen with their candidate, Trump. The killer is the GOTV machine. As I said, it works in battleground states but will deliver several points to the Democrats over the Republicans. So the slim leads that Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), the open seat in Nevada that used to be Harry Reid’s (Heck/Masto race), and Marco Rubio (Florida) are ripe for Democrat pick-ups. In the Roy Blunt (Missouri) race, the Democrat challenger Jason Kander won’t benefit nearly as much as the GOTV effort is not there, but its a very tight race and just some surrogates and some TV ads might be enough to just swing that election. In Arizona a long-shot is John McCain and in Ohio Rob Portman might still lose to Ted Strickland. Out of these six, I’m certain a big national wave will push a few of those tight races to the Democrats and Hillary will lead her side to a safe Senate majority of a few seats, say 53/47 or 54/46.
The House, however, is an other story. I said in 2014 in my first preview of Hillary’s run into this election, and in my March 2016 first match-up of Trump vs Hillary, and the revised forecast on August 1, that I felt the election avalanche was big enough to also overturn the 30 seat majority that the Republicans have in the House.
Well, now I’ve done some modeling on that math, and it doesn’t look good. The same reason why Hillary won’t get to a 20 point margin in her victory, is what holds the House. Its those third-party protest vote candiates. Specifically Johnson and McMullin.
If it was a two-person race as I thought in March, and Trump was currently at his 40.5% polling and there were 6% undecided, then Hillary would be at 53.5% and have a monster 13 point polling lead today. With still 6 points undecided. She’d be up by 13 points. And the Republican donors and volunteers and the whole party would be utterly demoralized. And Hillary could have big ‘coat tails’ to bring down-ticket Democrats to victory.
Now its the opposite. Now Republicans who hate Trump, can still come and vote - for Johnson. And if they vote for Johnson, they will then vote for the normal Republican ticket otherwise, the Republican Governor, the Republican Senator, the Republican member of the House, etc. I said Trump would end up with 39% of the vote. Thats all Republicans for down-ticket votes. But we have to add to that the 6% of the Johnson vote and the 1% of the McMullin vote. So now, the Republican ticket gets roughly 46% of the total vote. If Hillary takes the rest (and the math is not good for that either, but lets keep this simple) it means 54 to 46. An 8 point margin for DOWN-TICKET votes. Not enough to break the gerrymandered House seats (while coming close). I think its likely the Democrats will fall short but will pick up close to the amount, say roughly 25 of 30 seats, and be 5 seats down from the majority, at this election round. They can then plot their full take-over for 2018 mid-term elections.
And here again the GOTV machine fails the Democrats for their House races. The GOTV machine is a precision instrument that works in battleground states. Thats where roughly one third of Americans live (and vote). The REST of America will not get the GOTV effect, which means 2/3 of the HOUSE seats. Those seats, however WILL benefit from whatever enthusiasm and motivation Trump can create in their states, whether red or blue states, and can actually help tip a tight House race in some cases away from Democrats.
So the Supreme Court will flip because Democrats will have the votes in the Senate to confirm Hillary’s picks. She’ll get the White House and a small Senate majority. But the divided government will continue in 2017. Unfortunately for the Democrats (and arguably unfortunately also for the Republicans, certainly for the nation) the internal mix of House Republicans will shift to a more Tea Party balance. Less sane voices to calm them down means proportionately even more Tea Party madness of the style of Steve King, Louie Gohmert and Steve Scalise. Michele Bachmann was a Tea Partier and Ted Cruz the most famous Senate Tea Partier so this is the true nutty edge of Congress. They will want to shut down the Government whenever Hillary even starts to speak, far less the Democrats try to enact any legislation. It will be painful to watch the next two years.