The problems with the email and website are sorted. We are up, and hopefully also stable. If you needed to contact me, my usual contact details and the website is of course www.tomiahonen.com
The VP debate and the second Presidential debate (the Town Hall) were in the past week. And they went badly for Trump. But his campaign died on Friday when the videotape emerged of him bragging about sexual assaults. Never ever in the history of politics have as many sitting Senators, Governors and members of Congress been against their own party's nominee, by Thursday. But what happened since Friday, over two dozen of those who had endorsed Trump, now un-endorsed him. His campaign is dead. Now the Republican party has started an internal 'civil war' against its own side, as a preview of the blame game. All parties are fending for themselves and Trump on Tuesday was back to fighting against his own side such as Paul Ryan and John McCain. The election is turning into the political equivalent of a massacre. With that, we still have some numbers to look at.
Its 4 weeks to election day, 28 days from today. Polling average: Hillary ahead by 4.8% right now, based on the average of the first 6 polls out after the debate. (She was at 3.7% last week, previous weeks 1.6%, 1.1%, 2.2%, 3.4%in RCP average by the 4-way polls). Hillary is at her highest level she's ever been in the 4-way polls. Trump has fallen below 40% for the first time in six weeks. It seem absolutely certain that we passed Peak Trump when he was at 41.5% two weeks ago. There are 6.7% undecided voters. If we allocate those voters proportionately, the polls tell us that the national race is at 5.1% today (was 4.0%, 1.7%, 1.1%, 2.5% and 3.7%). Thats a race now exactly as far as how Obama beat Romney in 2012 on election day. If we consider either 2012 or 2008, Hillary is ahead of where Obama was at this point in time, four weeks out. Furthermore both races 2008 and 2012 showed a race getting tighter one month out, but now for Hillary, the trend is now going in Hillary's favor (was doing that even before the sex tape). Only two of the 8 polls reflect the sex tape and none reflect the Town Hall debate.
The actual race is for the Electoral College ie 'the map'. RCP Electoral College Map (no toss-ups) shows 340 (322, 292, 294, 311, 340) EV votes for Hillary, 198 (216, 246, 244, 227 and 198) EV votes for Trump. 270 is needed to win. Since last week Ohio have flipped back to Hillary and Trump is now back to below 200 EV votes. So now against the last election (Obama-Romney 2012) Trump is up in 1 small state (Iowa) while Hillary is up in 1 medium-sized state (North Carolina).
The TV ad wars have Hillary and her SuperPAC spending 17 million dollars. Trump, his SuperPACs and the NRA are spending 14 million. Then lets look at the RCP polling in the eight states which decides the race:
Florida - Hillary leads by 2.4% (last week Hillary led by 2.8%, previous weeks Trump led by 0.5%, 0.9%, 0.2%, earlier Hillary led by 3.6%)
North Carolina - Hillary leads by 2.6% (last week Hillary led by 1.8%, Trump by 1.4%, earlier weeks Hillary by 0.6%, 0.7%, 0.3%)
Ohio - Hillary leads by 0.5 (last week Trump led by 3.8%, 2.0%, 2.0%, previously Hillary led by 1.8%, and 3.3%)
Pennsylvania - Hillary leads by 8.6% (was 2.1%, 1.8%, 6.2%, 5.8% and 6.0%)
NOTE - As Trump cannot lose more than one of the above (and that cannot be Florida) there is essentially no other path than the above four. Losing any two of them means Hillary wins. Hillary leads now in all 4. The only other state that Trump leads is Iowa which is far too small to matter now. There is no mathematical point to consider the 'alternate map' we looked at before. Unless Trump can climb back into a lead in at least 2 of the above states, we can re-introduce the other states where Trump might pick up some EV votes. If he loses any of the above, he has lost hte race and he is now behind in all. Pennsylvania is catastrophic considering there are only 4 weeks to go.
If you want to see last week's Countdown summary, its here.
I did my debate review of the Town Hall debate. Its here.
And as we crossed into the month of October, my big all-numbers blog of the Election Scorecard of 3 October is here.
Campaign Staff. We're starting to see campaign resources catalogues. Not yet a perfect picture but many of the critical states are being reported. In general terms Hillary has about three times the paid staff as the partnership of Trump and the Republican party. I've found 1,480 for Hillary in 7 states including Arizona and Georgia, and 480 corresponding Trump+GOP staff in five of the same states not any in AZ or GA. But I don't yet have the full picture. I'm working on it..
Of the Senate Race, RCP Senate Map (no toss-ups) has slipped back to a 48/52 split where the Republicans hold a majority. It was 50/50 even split last week. which goes to the Democrats as the VP gets to break ties in the Senate. (It was at 49/51 last week, 49/51, 49/51, 50/50). The Democrats now lost their pick-ups in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. They currently show pick-ups for Democrats out of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and a pick-up for Republicans out of Nevada, for a net +2 (was +4, +3, +3, +4) Senate Seats to Democrats. Those races are very close and a likely Democratic wave seems to be buildling, I would not consider this shift to be 'meaningful' in light of the big shifts in the opposite direction in the race. But lets see if the 50/50 split returns.
The House Map by RCP is also up now. Currently if the Democrats were to sweep all 15 of the 'toss up' seats for the House as well as of course winning all that RCP projects they are ahead - the Democrats would be 15 seats short of the majority in the House. If we assign the toss-ups exactly evenly, the House would remain in Republican hands by a 22 seat majority.
Of my forecast. I made a revised forecast which I published last week. I now expect the race to end up with a 13% margin for Hillary. To see the actual forecast, its here. Note that forecast was made before the notorious Trump tape.
And just as a weird plug. I put 4 of my most popular Twitter jokes onto T-shirts. If you'd like to see the jokes in one place, and/or consider buying a T-shirt, they are here.
Next major scheduled event in race is the last debate in 8 days.
So the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, aka Exploda-phone had its highly publicized recall and fix. And all seemed like Sammy was doing everything right, and the damage from pocketburst phones was going to be short-lived. Not so fast. As most already know. the replacement phones weren't prone to exploding. They were prone to bursting into flame instead. The Galaxy Note 7, Burn Edition. After several cases were reported, Sammy figured out, its fix didn't fix it, and now its in deep dodo. So they've decided to cancel the Note 7 product altogether. Very expensive product cancellation. It leaves Samsung at least in the short run with a gaping hole in its product lineup at the top, right when rival Apple has a good update to its top-line products including its phablet-size screen iPhone.
Short term, Q4 and into Q1, this is a big bite out of Samsung sales. Its also a very nasty blotch onto its reputation. The next smartphones will need tons of extra testing that Samsung phones never catch fire again; and Samsung will feel the damage of this to its top-line phones for at least a year if not more. And it needs a replacement phabet screen phone. Will there be a Note 8. The number 8 is a lucky number in Asia, it would seem odd to end the run at 7 and not do a Note 8, but the Note itself has suffered so much, the whole Note brand may end (and a new phablet product line introduced to replace it).
This makes Q4 an even more interesting quarter for its 'horse race' aspect. A nice bonus for Apple that its main rival is removing the competing product at the top of the product line. Its quite plausible for Apple to overtake Samsung temporarily for the Christmas Quarter sales in units of smartphones sold. Meanwhile any rivals down in the Top 10 should put extra effort to push their phablets and try to take a slice of the Android-side of the Note 7 market give-away.
I never thought I'd get to become a fashion designer. Haha, well, Communities Dominate, so why not? I've done a few joke concepts with for example the Trump hat generator but never thought of attempting to sell a joke. But now one of my Tweets got very popular on Twitter and I decided to try if it might sell a few copies as a joke TV shirt. Which joke? This one: When the GOP sends us their candidates, they don't send us their best. Some are rapists, and some, I guess are good people. So I found a website that will print it on a T-shirt for you:
So I found this relatively-easy-to-use T-shirt online shop called Sunfrog, that lets you do your own designs and sell them. The link to buy that shirt is T-Shirt GOP Sends Rapists
and just in case, here also link directly via url: https://www.sunfrog.com/GOP-Sends-Rapists-black-Guys-Black.html
The T-shirt is now available in white, black, red, blue and grey. The text is the same, it costs $19 dollars plus shipping. If you wanted this, haha original Tomi T Ahonen/HatRat (or 'Seventh Steve') design, this is where my fashion empire started haha. Get them while they're hot. (I don't know about specific details of clothing materials, shipping costs etc.. so please bear that in mind, this is a small run joke print thing anyway. I may do a few more if this sells any copies)
I'm having a bad tech day. Woke up today to discover my email is down (and my main website is down) and now of course working to get that sorted. Its particularly inconvenient when traveling and doing this from hotel connection rushing to a meeting..
I will get it sorted out. Anyone who is attempting to contact me - best way right now is Twitter, I am of course @tomiahonen on Twitter. You can send me a Twitter DM if we both already follow each other, if not, you can send me an open Tweet on Twitter (just log onto your twitter account, write a normal Tweet but start it with my Twitter name, ie post a Tweet like @tomiahonen Hi Tomi, I'm from the blog, can you DM me and we can chat in private.
I will then follow you back and we can use TW DM for now. I also have several alternate emails, if you want to use that, probably best is my old hotmail account which is tomiahonen and then the ending for hotmail. I have just also noted my website is down (probably two issues are linked, I will get it sorted, but gosh, of course tech things happen when you travel)
So the Town Hall debate of 2016 is now done between Hillary and Trump. Trump came in determined to remain calm and not get angry. Hillary came with an interesting mission for a Presidential debate - ignore the goofy guy, work only on your own favorables and show your competence.
Trump threw everything he was told to attack Hillary with, just pivoting to his talking points from whatever the topic was, often ignoring the question completely, but became ever more frustrated. Hillary took the attacks, swapped them away, remained constantly the far more Presidental of the two and spoke only to the independents and undecideds. She left a lot of obvious attacks on the table, which many of her base will feel was letting Trump off the hook, no doubt. This was clearly by design. So lets explore a bit about the why and how.
If you remember the 2008 race and the incredible anticipation we all had awaiting the VICE Presidential debate, the one with Sarah Palin against Joe Biden, after the Katie Courick interviews, and everybody expected it to be a total train-wreck and an extended laughter-fest of a 90 minute-long Saturday Night Live sketch - but then were disappointed to find it was not that, this debate will be somewhat like that. The first debate showed us unhinged Trump. We (at least those of us who despise Trump) expected or hoped to see more of that. We didn't get that version of Trump, the over-caffeinated (over-Cocained?) Trump. We got the mild sedated Trump instead.
Trump knew he lost the first debate and he had now been preparing and doing prep. He came with three clear overriding missions. One, to throw every Republican attack talking point at Hillary, no matter what the topic, attack her again and again. And while doing that, under no circumstance attack or argue with any audience members. And third, under no circumstances, no matter how much Hillary would get to him, under no circumstances lose his cool. No 'Call Sean Hannity' moments. He was growing ever more frustrated towards the end, and no doubt had been coached to then attack the moderators if Trump felt his anger boiling, and that was ok, but not to lose his cool and not attack Hillary in any demeaning way how he did in the first debate. I didn't think Trump had it in him to manage it, but he did. I give this debate clearly scoring it as a win for Coach Chris Christie. Good job on a difficult coaching subject. Trump the amateur delivered his best performance in any of the 13 debates he has done. He came off as a serious, plausible Presidential candidate, not the carricature he's been most of the debates who brags about his penis size or yells 'WRONG' into the microphone all the time.
But this was not good enough, and Hillary was like a pro sports team that is far ahead in the game nearing the end, and is protecting the lead, playing for no mistakes. Hillary came into the first debate with a mission to crush Trump, to throw him completely off his game and to trap Trump into aweful comments to feed their attacks on Trump. And that strategy worked. And very VERY likely, that was the Hillary that Chris Christie had coached Trump to deal with. The weekend must have been painful in the attacks the debate prep team hit Trump with, to prepare him to take on the insults they felt were going to come. And they never did. Hillary dealt with Trump now, like she did with Bernie. With kid gloves. Yes, there were plenty of attacks by Hillary too, but most of this debate, Hillary stayed on her own positives, working to win over undecided voters in the middle. Her OWN supporters will feel she left too much of Trump untouched. But moderates, Independents, I think they will score this debate as one plausible President and one clearly competent, smart, established, experienced and SYMPATHETIC President. I think Hillary won the middle today. Not by a landslide, but enough to pick up a point or two in the national polls and very importantly, to grab some of those who are lingering there in the middle not sure if they should go with Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or Hillary or stay home and not vote.
When polls of who won the debate will come out, I'm guessing many will score it a tie, and Hillary will have only a little bit more of those who think she won, than those who think she lost. But I think she won this. I think the Republicans will feel that THIS is the Trump who should have been at the Convention and the first debate, if THIS Donald Trump had bothered to campaign, they would be now in a tight race, rather than being destroyed as a party.
Now lasting impact. This debate had to me, no zingers, no real moments of any kind. I don't know if there is much the TV networks can get out of this - which suits Hillary as 'the Tape' is still a hot story and so much of Trump's sexual past is still flooding the news. But there were newsworthy moments, I think most of all, that Trump now admits he hasn't paid Federal Income Taxes for the 916 million dollar loss he took in 1995. Trump did now open the attacks on Bill Clinton (very VERY stupid political move for someone with Trump's sexual background as Bill is not on the ballot, Hillary is not involved in any sexual scandal, but Trump is up to his ears, just the rape lawsuits he's been successfully sued and he's paid to settle, are SIX in his past. Plus a dozen sexual assault lawsuits he's also settled. And at least one ongoing rape lawsuit (child rape) and no doubt, many women will now come out, as they SEE the level of his sexual past, like with other sexual predators like Bill Cosby, this is a nightmare that ends the viability of Trump's campaign. Hillary could have pummelled Trump on a ton of that, she let it mostly slide, took a very 'statesman' (sorry, statesperson) -like position that we need healing and a caring President and values that don't divide, rather than list the dozens of sexual incidents that are already in the public domain and no doubt Hillary can rattle off the top of her head, as she's memorized all of the Trump Oppo Research their team has prepared. But again, just like with Judge Curiel, just like with Governor Susana Martinez, just like with Ted Cruz's dad, just like with the Khan family, just like with Miss Universe - Trump makes matters always worse when he's in trouble. Because Trump is in the news about his sex scandals, and he now tries to raise the issue of Bill's sexual past, it makes ALL of Trump's own sexual history the big talking point of this whole week. Not a 'decent' debate performance by Trump. Rather, its Trump and sex, all week. That kills him. Its a self-induced error.
But on the lasting effect, there is again essentially nothing the Trump campaign got out of this debate to add to their video library of what to hit Hillary with. What Hillary got, was again a treasure-trove of more lies, more silly stuff and more admissions or bizarre claims they can put into their ads. So taxes, Trump wants a huge tax cut for rich people. So taxes, Trump admits he didn't pay - worth $916 million. The weird 'only right wing would think this wins' argument that Hillary should pay 20 million dollars into her campaign - and claiming to 'self-fund' - now that the financial numbers show he is raking in the money from his screwed donors (some who are now angrily demanding their money back).. There is plenty in Trump that is immediately useful for Hillary's TV ad team.
But note how TOTALLY different this was for Hillary's strategy. She didn't keep annoying Trump all the time. She didn't make jokes about him to get the audience to laugh at Trump. She didn't set any traps for Trump. She also didn't do any concentrated push for any demographic (at least it didn't seem so to me while watching it. No pandering to Hispanics or blacks or women or youth voters or military voters or retired people. A very 'plain vanilla' focus without any specific target demographic. I find that fascinating because last time it was so clear she came with the two target groups of blacks and women. But Hillary worked just on her positives, her competence, her accomplishments, and her empathy. Note the skill such as adding the first question as a wrap-up to the second-to-last question, that kind of tech skill. She kind of ignored the whiny old grumpy man and talked to the real undecided voters, just to them. Trump, he spoke to his crowd. His supporters will be very happy with this performance. They will, however, be stunned that most of what Trump attacked Hillary with, doesn't seem to stick and won't move the needle at all.
Let me say, though, that Trump did manage to do something bizarre. He launched a debate against his own VP (and even as Pence was not in the room to respond, we do think Trump managed to stumble so badly in this weird attack, that Pence wins that argument). So yeah. Trump hasn't spoken to his VP recently (who was at Trump Tower over the weekend) and this to me sounds like a married couple in the late stages of divorce - and that Trump disagrees with Pence. Trump, who has the absurd pro-Putin position on Russia - and Pence tried to argue for 'imaginary Trump' having the sane position on Putin and Russia. Now Trump underlined how ridiculously out of touch he is, on Putin and Russia. I think this should get most of those last Foreign Policy Republican biggest guns to rush to endorse Hillary by now, like Colin Powell, Condi Rice etc.
I would think Trump will be very upset with the moderators, blame them for being against him (I am writing this as always, before seeing any of the aftermath, or reading any Tweets or any comments, just to give my own, unfiltered and un-influenced view, how I saw it, on first view).
Yeah, Trump's best performance so far. Not anywhere near good enough to win against Hillary and she didn't take him seriously. She is working the middle undecided voters only, with that pure focus. She'll take the technical victory out of this rather than go for splashy but dangerous fisticuffs, safe and solid. Trump threw everything he could think of at Hillary, kept from any fights with the audience and did not lose his cool. But he needed a big win. He didn't even get a tie. Hillary will pick up maybe a point, if lucky, two, but note, most of the gains now measured in the polls this week will be totally lost in the far bigger implosion happening with the sex tape and the mass desertion from Trump's campaign and the unprecedented Civil War of the Republican party where one month before the election dozens who had endorsed the candidate are now un-endorsing him.
Would I have loved to have seen fireworks and clever argumentation, of course. Was this a smart strategy by Hillary, yes. Bravo. And was Trump able to surprise us with 90 minutes of discipline, gosh, yes, I didn't think the man-child had that in him. Oh, one more weird thing. They did not shake hands in the beginning (weird). I didn't see if they did at the end, I am certain Hillary went to thank the moderators. Oh, and my view of the moderators - very good control of stopping Trump from interrupting - thats how its done. And a decent job on time, I'd say very fair and balanced moderation overall. Remember if one side blames the officials, they lost the debate haha...
The Second Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is in St Louis today at 21:00 local time. It will have two moderators, CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC's Martha Raddatz. But in a very significant change from the first debate, this one is a 'Town Hall' format, where the audience members ask the questions. The moderators have picked members of the audience and seen those questions and picked the questions so the moderators do get to guide the discussion into directions they think are relevant but the audience members ask the actual questions. So my 'debate viewer guide update' for this the Town Hall format debate, is this blog. To remind readers, I was a champion debater myself in college for four years, and for 3 years a debate coach, two years professionally at a ranked college debate university. So this is a debate preview blog not written by political or media expert but by an argumentation and debate professional (don't try this at home, haha)
First off, this debate is now in the shadow of Trump's Sexual Grabbing Tape scandal and his first public apology of his life. It is certain to be covered at the debate. Note, there also is a parallel news item from Hillary's side, Wikileaks released what they claim are emails from inside the Clinton campaign and what they claim are transcripts of Hillary's speeches to Wall Street. At least of what is currently in the public domain, those leaks are truly boring nothingburgers that wouldn't even get hard-core Bernie Sanders supporters too worked up about Hillary. No 'sold government secrets' type of revellations etc. But those leaks are very likely going to come up as well.
MUCH OF THIS IS STANDARD DEBATE TECHNIQUE
Now, to the debate itself. First off, I wrote my debate preview for the first debate. A very detailed article about the various techniques both sides could use and it showed well what Hillary did do, and why Trump fell into some traps and was also so easily provoked into various types of 'typical Trump' behavior patterns. That blog article applies totally to today's debate. I will not repeat it now. Please read it first, if you hadn't read it yet.
This article will only focus on 'finer points about the St Louis debate'. How will a Town Hall format impact the debate and what other issues may be in play. So we know that Trump could be any one of his conceivable public personas, from the mild lethargic calm and almost boring Trump, to the hyperactive, angry, paranoid and interrupting one we saw at Hosfstra University two weeks ago (Sean Hannity! Sean Hannity! Why isn't anyone calling Sean Hannity?). Hillary has the problem of having to prepare to debate any variation of a Trump. And very likely, even Trump himself doesn't know exactly how he will play the debate, what role he will take, and may not decide until he stands on that stage.
Which brings first issue of potential surprise. Trump might not be there. He may cancel and he could do it at a very last moment. Blame some evil plots against him and not show up. Then do some stunt to try to turn that into a 'victory'. We do know Rudy Giuliani, one of his closest confidants, has been advising Trump to not return to the debate stage because Giuliani knows debate well enough that Trump cannot win against Hillary and therefore he can only make matters worse. That said, Chris Christie was brought in to coach Trump for the second debate (and Christie is also known for doing town halls pretty well although he's also famous for being belligerent, feuding with audience members telling them to shut up and sit down, something Trump cannot do). Christie at least, and very likely also the Trump Campaign's long-time political advisor Senator Jeff Sessions, will know and will say, to skip a promised debate is suicidal in elections. Trump knows this or should know this himself, he boycotted the debate just before the Iowa Caucus in late January and Trump lost the first primary season election to Ted Cruz because of that decision.
The last debate had a live TV audience of 84 million (a record) plus millions more online. Usually the later debates do not see an increase in audience but rather a decrease, because some who were interested to see both candidates have made up their minds (some even voted) and so for the second debate, the interest declines, somewhat (I am obviously ignoring the VP debate). This debate is likely to see another huge audience and could even see a larger audience. Its Sunday night not Monday. The race features the very entertaining Trump who did have quite an epic breakdown in the first debate that generated a lot of discussion and jokes afterwards including a very popular Saturday Night Live parody, so there is the 'car crash' element that brings part of an enthusiastic audience. Then there is the sex tape, sex scandals bring more of an audience. And on Saturday night, 22 hours earlier, SNL ran its parody of Trump's sex tape scandal, further boosting the interest in the race. The race is also seen to be close in the polling, and a close race generates more interest than a blowout race. And for those in inside-politics, the current crisis in the Republican party and suddenly eroding Trump support (due to the sex tape) adds to the drama. Its very possible that the Sunday debate even exceeds the audience of the first debate. It will definitely be far larger than most 'second debates'.
The main 'boxing match' aspect of the debate is the same as last time. Hillary will want to get under Trump's skin, to antagonize him and provoke childish behavior. She will also use more sophisticated debate technique and psychology to get Trump to fall into 'debate traps' where Trump is led to argue some particular point, that Trump might feel is a strong suite for him, but one that Hillary's debate prep has figured out how to defeat and win the argument. So for example, the Miss Universe argument last time, that was direct provocation, get Trump to jump in and make a fool of himself (and damage himself badly with women voters). But a 'trap' was how Hillary talked about the race and policing issue, inviting Trump to solve the 'police and guns in inner cities' problem - to which Trump eagerly jumped in with one of his favorite solutions for inner cities - stop-and-frisk - something that blacks HATE - and which then brought out 12 minutes of damaging debate for Trump where he spent a good part arguing that point with Lester Holt the moderator, a black man, who knows perfectly well that stop-and-frisk is illegal. So Hillary will use these kinds of methods in the debate too.
On Trump's side, he will try to appear Presidential, to seem to have a reasonable grasp of the issues, and to come across as considered and with the right skills and experience and temperament to be President. He utterly failed this last time, even a quarter of Republican supporters and by far most of Independents felt Trump lost the debate. So he has a far tougher goal now. He needs to WIN this debate, even as his expectation levels are lower than those for Hillary who clearly won the first debate. But Trump is likely to come in with a mental model to try to appear sane and calm and very 'reasonable'. And that may last 20 minutes of the 90 minute debate. Note, just like last time, there are no breaks, no TV ad breaks, not toilet breaks. This is a SEVERE handicap for Trump who cannot maintain focus for anywhere near that long, but ironically, it is what the Trump side demanded, when they thought Hillary could not sit still for 90 minutes and they thought this was going to give them the advantage. Now, Trump with his thin skin is easily provoked and has a 70 year lifelong learned habit to interrupt anyone always for any reason and to correct by interruption any points he thinks are wrong. Hillary's team has cataloged hundreds of such issues, that Hillary has meticulously memorized and is ready to throw them in Trump's face, to provoke his reactions. This test of wills is in some way the theoretical concept of which will win, the immovable object or the unstoppable force. Hillary wants to get under Trump's skin and he wants to avoid provocations. Last time Hillary won this race easily, and that candidate who becomes angry and aggravated, is always losing the debate to the TV audience. Hillary's is the most experienced TV debater in television history, Trump had never had a one-on-one TV debate before last time; his 11 debates of the Primary season were not very close in prepping him for the way this type of debate will work. Please read my first debate preview, all those issues still apply here.
AUDIENCE INTERACTION SKILL
The audience is different this time. The questions will probably all, or at least mostly, come from the audience (but the moderators will do follow-ups and guide the discussion, do any possible fact-checking and at times will be pressing the debaters if they try to avoid answering). This requires a good deal of EMPATHY and sympathy. The debater should listen attentively to the voter asking the question and memorize their name, not interrupt or argue with that voter directly, and show they understand, empathize with whatever issue it was, and then respond. As always, the proper debate technique is: answer the question asked, but pivot quickly to your related talking point (where your political argument can be won), then include an attack on your opponent. Include a joke and a good smile (or if its a question about a tragedy, personal story, son lost in the war, daughter died of drug overdose, obviously then be very serious about it). Always answer, pivot, attack. Always. A good experienced debater can vary the sequence, answer, attack, pivot but those three parts are in a good political TV debate response EVERY time. If you didn't answer, you lose points for being evasive and open yourself for attacks by your opponent. If you don't pivot to your own talking point, you're not convincing the audience that they should vote for you. And if you don't attack the rival, they don't have a reason to vote against the rival.
If its a normal moderated debate, one moderator or panel of moderators, the debaters get a 'feeling' of how the interactions go, and have verbal and non-verbal signals of how the communication balance is going. Trump struggles with this because of his overbearing style and tendency to try to dominate every conversation. Hillary comes across easily as 'too polished' and 'too calculated' from literally decades of trying to avoid press attacks and 'gotcha' questions. But with a live voter audience Town Hall, EVERY interaction with an audience member is a NEW person, whose interpersonal interaction with the candidate(s) is unique. Whether the voter likes you and your party or not, the candidate HAS to appear to sincerely want to listen to the voter and pay attention and UNDERSTAND the question. Not to argue with the voter under any circumstances.
Well, we've seen this dynamic many times with Trump. He is prone to instantly correct audience members - on things Trump cannot possibly know better than the audience member. Two perfect examples. At the Commander-in-Chief forum, Trump argued with a military veteran woman, about suicide rates, where of course the woman was correct and Trump had the wrong number. And recently in Nevada, Trump corrected an audience member on the CORRECT pronounciation o the state's name - to a Nevadan !!! I think the locals know best how their state name should be pronounced. This type of instinctive corrective behavior is extremely off-putting and definitely not statesmanlike. And Trump is prone to do this all the time. It is EVEN more difficult for Trump because he cannot go into the debate as 'lethargic' and not attack - because he HAS to ATTACK HILLARY. So his mind needs to be able to focus, do not attack audience members but do attack Hillary. The audience itself will side immediately with any audience member who is attacked, so if (and when) Trump does this, he will lose his live audience. As I explained in the previous debate preview blog, Trump thrives emotionally on the audience feedback and will feel vulnerable and cornered, if the audience doesn't rush to his side. Its even worse if Trump senses the audience is taking sides with Hillary, against Trump.
We have seen Hillary do Town Halls. Its her FAVE debate format. Its the most intimate and the one where the range of topics is most vast, allowing her cyborg-like memory to dig out the most astonishing wonky details to address any conceivable issue (Trump is likely to expose on some questions that he doesn't even understand the question itself). Trump interrupts, he doesn't remember the question, and he very often then starts to talk about his favorite topic - Trump. And brag about how rich or smart he is, or where he has a building or golf course. Hillary personalizes every response very deeply to the voter, addresses them by name and makes SURE she answered the question, before pivoting to her point and attacking Trump. And this is timed of course, with a clock. Trump had a 2 minute clock on a 'Town Hall prep' event he ran this week, he never stayed within the time, didn't answer most questions, rambled onto nonsense and those were not audience questions, they were actually questions from a moderator. So it was only a pretend-town-hall.
The further problem with the Town Hall is the rebuttals. If you don't answer the question to a journalist/moderator in most debates, they KNOW you won't want to answer some questions, all politicians in all press events try to avoid some questions. They don't take it personally. But in a Town Hall, if you forgot the question and didn't answer it - then to POINT OUT that the other side didn't actually answer - now let ME answer your point - makes the other side look really shady. You didn't answer a legitimate question from a VOTER. It looks very bad. Its another way you lose the live audience (and the rival to pick up the love). Hillary has the debate technique and capacity, to LISTEN to Trump's answers, not on 'how can I attack the other side' but rather, with empathy - is the other side ANSWERING THE QUESTION from the voter. This is a far higher-order mental drain during the debate. If you focus on that, you can't ALSO work on trying to pick up debate conflicts and contradictions and point THOSE out. This was what we saw in the infamous debate that killed Marco Rubio's run where Chris Christie stabbled Rubio again and again. Rubio's mind was on his next talking points, Christie KNEW how to answer that issue and was over-prepared on the ISSUES, he could focus on how RUBIO was answering - to catch Rubio's mistakes. And on the 'he didn't answer' part - Hillary did this already in the first debate. This is the level of technique that is utterly beyond Trump's ability, because his mind is only trying to remember for 90 minutes to try to appear Presidential.
Trump is prone to paranoia as it is. He is utterly ill-prepared for audiences that feature undecided moderate voters, as his rallies only feature very die-hard Trump supporters of nearly-white audiences. So as Trump throws his 'standard lines' into the audience, he will get usually muted or even stunned silence reactions. This time there are two moderators not one, and very likely both will challenge Trump at some points on either fact-checking or pressing Trump on questions he had not answered. As there are two of them, they can possibly act MORE to curtail Trump's natural tendency to interrupt constantly, to grab extra time and speak over others. Anderson Cooper had a difficult time in an earlier CNN Republican debate and will also have tried to learn from that in how to try to constrain Trump more. This all means, Trump is likely to arrive to the conclusion inside his head, by mid-debate, that the debate moderators are conspiring against him. As Hillary is highly disciplined and has excellent debate technique, she will tend to answer each question, so the moderators have far less 'need' to press Hillary or fact-check her, this will aggravate Trump more, to think its a rigged debate.
But the audience is likely to be his worst enemy. If Trump starts to feud with some voters, he may well find again that the whole audience turns against him and starts to laugh AT him like they were at the end of the first debate. Then Trump feels his under siege from all sides, Hillary hitting her, now two moderators conspiring against him, and the audience against him. Then, there is possibly a semi-successful stifling of Trump's natural style - to interrupt less. If this is not by Trump's own self-induced discipline, but is forced upon him by the double-teaming moderators - in that case Trump will feel boxed in. He'll be even more paranoid. Trump hated the fact that Mike Pence, his dim-witted VP, scored by Republican pundits as the far better debater than Trump. So he has that worry in his mind. And Trump read all the reviews how Hillary tricked Trump in the first debate in one trick after the next, and once he senses Hillary's traps forming (or imagined traps) he may go on wild alternate topics to talk about, abandoning his train of thought and sound like a totally goofy confused uncle.
This all in the context of Trump's own palace revolt within the Republican party. A third of Congressional Republicans have now denounced Trump, many of those calling for Trump to quit. This is in the sex tape aftermath. So very VERY recently, past 48 hours, Trump has a true existential crisis on his hands, where many very close from Republican party leadership to according to gossip, also Senator Jeff Sessions, has urged Trump to drop out of the race! Paul Ryan revoked Trump's invitation to come campaign with Ryan in Wisconsin (would have been their first joint appearance) and Ryan has stopped the funding of Trump campaign work by Republican party operatives! Its a true total palace revolt going on in his backyard. Meanwhile Kellyanne Conway did not show up at TV show to try to defend her boss's sex tapes and her appearances for Sunday TV shows were replaced by... 3 times married and very unfaithful Rudy Giuliani. Conway may already have been fired (or may have resigned). And its likely the Trump Tower brain trust is in full crisis mode where possibly the nominal Campaign Manager (Conway) has departed the campaign, one advisor says 'cancel the debates' Giuliani, one advisor says 'quit the race' Jeff Sessions, one campaign advisor says 'you need serious debate prep in town hall format' ie Chris Christie. And no doubt, Roger Ailes gives advice on how to deal with a sex tape scandal and grabbing women by their private parts. Is Trump capable of focusing on the debate prep at all? And how calm and focused will he be on Sunday eve? There are rumors he is trying to hire a new Campaign Manager to replace Conway (may be already hired, may be that the sex tape just scared that potential new 'professional' person away haha). Trump's mind is not by any means 100% on the debate, because his very expensive personal gamble, the Presidential run that Trump has now also personally funded by something near 20 million dollars, is now being threatened. Trump's mind will prioritize his OWN money first in any situation.
The sexual assault bragging on the sex tape by Trump, which he admits and apologized for, is a crime. He has sexually attacked women. The reporting on this area of Trump's background is in accelerated mode and for example, his past lawsuits include 6 rape lawsuits and over a dozen sexual assault cases - that Trump has SETTLED. He did something. But he has very good lawyers who always have ended up paying and then forcing Trump's sex crime victims to sign non-disclosure agreements. A long series of audio recordings emerged from Howard Stern's radio show, of similar crude language and Trump talking of his nasty attitudes to women. Then there are DOZENS of stories of other Trump related creepyness including stories he slept with Apprentice and Miss Universe contestants, to the horrible child labor sex trade story about his 'modeling agency'. And of course Trump is known for raping his first wife, for being unfaitful to that first wife, forcing his second wife to pose for Playboy, then being unfaithful to his second wife, and bought his third wife, a Slovenian hooker, escort model, and of course has been unfaitfhful to the third wife too. And Trump is scheduled to go to court on his next rape court case, this a 13 year old girl.
Trump issued his non-apology apology (I apologize if someone was offended) where he did not apologize or sexually assaulting women. And in that apology Trump threatened to bring up Bill Clinton's infidelity issues at the debate. We KNOW this is what ALL his advisors including his KIDS have said he CANNOT do. It will not end up well. It will only damage Trump. He, a person who sexually assaulted dozens, would attack HILLARY for standing by her man, whose last infidelity was several decades ago. Hillary has no sexual scandals in her closet. So why would Trump do this attack? What could he possibly hope to achieve other than expose himself for vicious attacks on his own sexual history. And then .. turn Hillary into the martyr. Not to mention, Melania Trump just issued her forgiveness statement where she utterly condemns her husband's behavior - but stands by her rotten man anyway and asks all to forgive Trump. Now with that, Trump wants to then attack Hillary for doing EXACTLY the same back decades ago, what Melania is doing now.
Now. The right wing hates the Clintons. Stephen Bannon the Breitbart guy is no doubt pushing that Trump should go on the attack and bring the Bill Clinton topics up at the debate. Roger Ailes likely feels the same, that the attack is the best form of defense. I would say all true politicos, from Jeff Sessions to Chris Christie to Rudy Giuliani to Kellyanne Conway - understand this is a TOTAL LOSER strategy, it will backfire enormously and only end up making Hillary more popular and Trump a monster. I am sure at least Ivanka sees this too. I am certain by how Trump complained at the end of the first debate, that he could have attacked Hillary but was such a gentleman that he won't do it - haha, tells us he WANTED DESPERATELY to attack Hillary but all his advisors had convinced him that its suicidal, and he went by their rule. I am not sure he holds that view anymore.
Trump needs a big gamble that has a possible big upside and possible big downside. A big gamble. And that is, attack Hillary on Bill's history. The timing of this could not be worse for Trump. The format of the debate - Town Hall - is worst for this. And Hillary HAS PREPPED for this attack. She has a perfectly timed 60 second answer to use, that will get all women on her side, and will include a DEVASTATING attack on Trump. And we know how Hillary team's debate prep is COORDINATED with the Campaign. They have the attack ads READY. Hillary will bait Trump into areas where there is horrible video and words that Trump has used, that if he takes this attack, it will end up damaging Trump far more than it could possibly harm.... Bill Clinton. And Bill is not on the ticket. Why attack Bill? Hillary did not do the infidelity. Does Trump really want to argue, that if a husband is unfaithful, the woman should dump the husband - when Trump himself was unfaithful - and HE dumped his wives. It is a bizarre sexual abuser mindset that I honestly do not get. Any sane politician knows this is a madness strategy, you do not HINT at Bill Clinton's infidelity if you are Donald Trump (and your surrogates are Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich and Roger Ailes, some of the most notorious unfaithful or abusive men towards women).
I believe Kellyanne Conway and Chris Christie and the team have worked for 48 hours behind the scenes to prepare a tight, 90 second solid 'second apology' for Trump to memorize, that he will run, to get past the sex tape story. And if Hillary is smart, when she is given her chance to rebut, she'll say, no, she has nothing to add, she'll take Trump's apology, lets move on. Hillary knows she's already won the sexual abuse story. She wants Trump to have maximum time to ramble onto more word salad to destroy his campaign even more, on ever more new topics. And by not pursuing her 'obvious advantage' it would gain Hillary good points early on in the debate. This is what I think would be Trump's best case (and Hillary's best strategy on it).
At the other side, it could be that Trump comes out swinging, a total wrecking ball out of control, with wild allegations and ending up repelliing even more of the women that are left still voting for him and getting a NEW wave of rejections of Trump. This is Trump's natural instinct, and I betcha Chris Christie doesn't know which version Trump will do on stage Christie will do his utmost to urge Trump not to go there.
What to look for. How angry and interruptive will Trump get. Will he lose his cool (expect that to start about 30 minutes into the debate). Has Trump been told to not interrupt and how long into the debate can that last (I cannot imagine Trump able to hold that till the end of the debate). Will Trump again feud with moderators. Will he argue with voters. Will Hillary lay new traps. Will Hillary 'take the side of' audience members if Trump seems to be bullying some. Expect Hillary to be smiling again and seem her 'most humane' and 'most warm'. That is invariably how her town halls go. Out of all her debates, that she never ever loses, she does her BEST at town halls. If Trump the monster shows up, it may be that this is seen as her biggest triumph.
Also remember Hillary has a strategy they've plotted. The first debate was clearly designed to appeal strongly to two vital voting blocks, women and blacks. I think this debate has a similar purpose, I am guessing its another two voter blocks and it seems like the obvious next two are Hispanics and youth. And she'll likely have, like in the first debate, a DIFFERENT strategy preplanned, for both of those groups (with ample pre-tested argumentation and videos ready to roll, with various arguments to provoke predictable responses out of Trump).
But enjoy. If Trump loses badly, and his polling which is likely already baking in a decline from the sex tape, will now show a big drop (again) then Trump may well decide he won't bother with the third debate. This may be our last debate. (and there is even a slight chance that Trump quits the race and the last debate could even have Hillary debating Mike Pence haha)
The 'main debate preview' blog about technique and these two debaters is here.
My debate detailed aftermath of the first debate including the inside observations, is here.
I hate bad reporting. And mostly I try to ignore it, where most tech authors can have violently differing opinions about their subject matter. But when some idiots don't know basic math - that is when we need.. the STATS POLICE. This is what Tech Crunch has now done, on an article which has the correct headline (the mobile wars are over) if they intend that to be the OS wars but on that story they are years behind the curve. Typical Americans, clueless about mobile once again, mesmerized by iNonsense.
The part I don't like is idiot clueless John Biggs writing within that correct headline. He thinks GOOGLE (????) and Apple are the only two 'winners' in HANDSETS. Google? With Pixel. Yeah. I know. And he says Samsung has burned itself up, and seems to be ignorant of Huawei or Oppo or Vivo or Xiaomi or ZTE. He DOES mention Lenovo in a disparaging way and seems oblivious to LG. So Mr 'Tech Crunch' thinks that the world handset market is somehow now owned by Google's Pixel and Apple's iPhone. And Samsung is dead (Samsung sold nearly twice as many smartphones the last quarter for which we have the data, Q2) and apparently Huawei, Oppo, Vivo etc all sell LESS THAN GOOGLE PIXEL smartphones?
What a total absolute idiot clueless moron. This guy John Biggs should never be allowed near a mobile story again. That info is PUBLIC DOMAIN and reported REGULARLY by major analysts, its no SECRET. What is Tech Crunch doing to its reputation allowing this airhead to write about mobile phones. Get him off the payroll. He's deadwood. Just read the COMMENTS on that stupid article and everybody there mocks the writer.
As is our custom, I will not honor the website with more links from this blog to an article that serves no end and is a disservice to the industry. SHAME ON YOU John Biggs 'professional' writer. You are a disgrace to your profession. You should resign and retire. Go write childrens' bedtime stories. You know nothing about mobile. You are clueless. Your editors wrote the headline for you, you messed up every word since in that story. Hang your head in shame!
And let me say this on how nice I was to Tech Crunch. When I found this mistake-ridden story, I used Twitter to contact John Biggs. I told him that he has errors in his story. He sent me a reply with literally the shrugging shoulders sign. When I asked was he serious and not interested in correcting ERRORS in his story, he blocked me. This is the professional ethics of Tech Crunch - and mind you, I do have an 'Real' checkmark on Twitter to verify that I am really Tomi Ahonen. And that is the professional response by Mr John Biggs - he blocked me. Nice. I'll make sure his colleagues at Tech Crunch will hear that too. But first needed to post this blog. Do not Trust Tech Crunch as a professional outfit if they DELIBERATELY leave ERROR-RIDDEN articles on their website and won't issue corrections when pointed out by the experts of that given competence area. Tech Crunch, shame on you! Get this incompetent clown off your show. He is damaging your brand! Shame on you John Biggs, resign!
Its 10 days from the first debate and 29 relevant polls have come out. We can now measure its impact to the race. Nationally Hillary gained 2.2% in polling, but in battleground states, she gained a very impressive 3.9%. An interesting detail is that Trump damaged himself more than Hillary was able to gain to herself. Trump is leaking support, he is 1.4% from his peak and down to 40.1% today.
Hillary's national polling in the 4-way race has seen 8 polls, each of them measured a bounce which averaged 2.2% (or about 2.9 million votes that she gained on Monday if the final vote count is 130 million on election day). However, a further analysis of post-debate polling tells us a fascinating detail about this Hillary 2016 campaign. In the 20 battleground states for which we have polls (in 11 states) and a total of 21 polls in them - show her gaining on average 3.9% !! Yes, her debate behavior was so finely-tuned, she gave answers to not appeal to all voters uniformly; they had measured what issues would work EXPLICITLY in the battleground states! Her performance in the battleground states was 2x better than overall nationally. And that means in NON-battleground states, Hillary's gain was quite modest at 1.45%. Hillary's areas to focus on, in the debate were designed to deliver nearly 3 times better reactions in battleground states, than in non-battleground states! How's that for nuance and precision, while the orange guy is yapping in your face and constantly interrupting, and you also have to remember to smile a lot, but not to smile too much.....
All real scientific polls after the debate gave Hillary a massive victory by those who watched, she creamed Trump on average by more than 2 to 1 of the viewers. Trump never even convinced all of his own existing loyal supporters that he won, far less convincing any independent undecided semi-neutral voters in the middle. Trump was at 41.5% nationally in support going into the debate, but typically only 20% to 30% of viewers felt he won the debate and he is now down to 40.1% nationally. Meanwhile Hillary at 43.1% nationally heading into the debate, got typically from 50% to even 60% of the viewers saying she won, so she convinced not just all of her own supporters, she convinced many in the middle and even some who were Trump supporters, that Hillary won the first debate.
Before the debate I collected all reasonably competitive states into one table, and the latest polls from each of those states according to RCP averages, so we had a starting point, not only of the national average, but we could see each of the individual 'battleground' states and if there was in-state movement (and perhaps, as sometimes happens, some states move in opposite directions to others). I used a very generous assumption, that any state where the race was less than 10% in either side's favor, then that was a state that either was already a battleground, or if one side clearly won the debate and got something like a 5 point bounce, that state could conceivably become competitive in the last weeks of the race. 20 states. I ranked them in order of how much they preferred one or the other, starting from most pro-Hillary states on top to most pro-Trump states on the bottom. That table gives us now a good point to reference, and use only polls published after the debate (21 polls in total, covering 11 of those 20 states).
State Before Debate After Debate Polls Ave Gain
New Mexico +8.5% 13% 1 4.5%
Oregon +7.3% 12% 1 4.7%
Virginia +6.0% 7% 1 1.0%
New Hampshire +5.4% 7% 1 1.6%
Michigan +4.7% 6% 2 1.3%
Pennsylvania +1.8% 7.7% 3 5.9%
Florida +0.5% 3% 3 2.5%
Colorado -0.5% 11% 2 11.5%
North Carolina -1.4% 3% 4 4.4%
Ohio -2.0% -1.5% 2 0.5%
South Carlina -7.0%
Texas -7.6% -7% 1 0.6%
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Analysis based on RCP data, 6 Oct 2016
The above table may be freely shared
On average, the 21 polls showed a gain for Hillary of 3.9% in the battleground states. The national average bump was only 2.2%. So for the non-battleground states the gain was 1.45% and thus the precision argumentation was designed to out-perform battleground voters vs non-battleground voter reactions by a factor of 2.8 times better. And look at two of the most critical states. Pennsylvania, where Hillary had seen a steady erosion in her support bleeding into a Trump wave building - that was stumped with a giant 5.9% bump (four times more than in non-battleground states, three times the size of her national bounce) and taking a tight race 1.8% Pennsylvania into very-safe territory of 7.7% now. This was measured in two polls, so its quite likely that this was not just fluke polling by one very outlier poll either.
What about her other part of her firewall? Colorado. Colorado had been considered safe Hillary territory. Trump worked it and got the state to slip into half a percent on Trump's side. Hillary's debate performance not just flipped Colorado back, she utterly destroyed Trump's chances in the state, with a bounce of 11.5%. The state went from razor-thin Trump to 'safe Clinton' in one day. She captured Colorado in that debate and put it away. That state bounce was also measured by two polls, so there is reasonable confidence its not a fluke poll. If Hillary holds Colorado and Pennsylvania on election day, she has won the Presidency. Trump needs one or the other (plus winning Florida, Ohio, North Carolina etc).
There were 21 polls in 11 of those 20 potential battleground states. Each of the 11 states shows a gain to Hillary, on average a 3.9% bounce. Of the 21 polls, 20 polls themselves showed a gain (only one Ohio poll showed Trump gaining, but another Ohio poll gives their average as a slight bounce still in Hillary's favor even in Ohio). Its obvious Hillary won the debate. Its obvious she got a nice bounce out of it. The fascinating aspect is, that this effect is so targeted. I wrote yesterday in my Election Forecast update about this 'low-HIGH-low' effect. That Hillary's targeting machine is able to outperform in the critical battleground states - but that it means, that compared to the national average, it means she is slightly 'underperforming' in non-battleground states. I showed this picture to explain it
See, the same effect is now also with the result of the debates. Exactly the same phenomenon. She is able to drive results BETTER in battleground states than nationally. This should frighten the Republicans seriously, because Trump is acting in a way to not even try to counter this. He has no data operation and his ground game is hopelessly outclassed.
The debate polling shows almost exactly that math. Nationally Hillary at 2.2%. In Battleground states she got a 3.9% bounce (1.7% better than national average) but in red states and in blue states, she only gets 1.45% so she's down 0.75% in those states. Its exactly this pattern. And we will no doubt see this pattern now repeat in all sorts of measurements from registrations to yes, finally, the vote count on the night of November 8.
Then lets examine Hillary vs Trump a bit. We had the same numbers for the national race, effective the morning of the debate last week. Hillary's lead in RCP national average, 4-way polls was as I have in this chart below. I have now added the current RCP standing based on the first 8 polls out since the debate an the changes in each :
FIRST 2016 DEBATE BOUNCE MEASURED 10 DAYS LATER
Candidate was is now gain/loss
Hillary 43.1% 43.9% +0.8%
Trump 41.5% 40.1% -1.4%
Johnson 7.8% 7.4% -0.4%
Stein 2.4% 2.5% +0.1%
Undecided 6.0% 6.1% +0.1%
Source: TomiAhonen Consulting Analysis based on RCP data, 6 Oct 2016
The above table may be freely shared
The net change is +2.2% for Hillary which is equivalent to 2.8 million votes on election day. But note, while Hillary gained nearly one point in her support, Trump lost almost twice as much in his support. The debate was WORSE for Trump than the gains to Hillary. Also, in historical context, Hillary is right at her all-time peak in four-way-polling (she's touched 44.0% twice) but Trump is far from his peak (41.5%) and now hitting that 'ceilling' many have said he has, of 40% nationally. As I wrote in my original election forecast between Hillary and Trump in March of this year, and again in my update to that forecast now yesterday, Trump is at that 40% which he can't breach. Its a concrete reinforced steel-plated ceiling that he can't crack. Hillary will win this election easily and the only question on the size of her landslide is, how many voters go to the protest candidates instead of her. Trump will not get to more than 40% of the final election count when he even loses some of his loyal supporters in his debates. He's the only candidate ever to do that. You're supposed to pick up new support in debates, from among those in the middle, undecided voters, or if you have a bad night, you're flat. But Trump is bleeding support.
Thats what I have for you today. Interesting math with the election... And a fascinatingly nuanced precision campaign, that Hillary can outperform her appeal to voters in the battleground states so precisely, she gets nearly 3 times more conversions in those states, than in non-battleground states. I do think this bodes very well for the Presidential election for Hillary's team. Lets see how the rest of the race goes, because there are races for Senator, Governor, Congress, etc in those other states too.
If you want more numbers, my election scorecard (all numbers from campaign staff to fund-raising to debate scores) is here.
If you want to read my updated forecast from yesterday, that says this debate delivers Hillary a 13% election landslide, its here
If you hate numbers but want to understand how the first debate was won & lost, in anticipation of the next debate now on Sunday, read this, a professional ex-debate coach's inside view to how Hillary used debate technique to crush Trump.
If you prefer not to read boring numbers & data related election articles but rather jokes about Trump, then why not read about his youth as Punk Rock star or read about the laws of TrumpoDynamics as published by Trump University. Or if you prefer musical comedy, here is Monty Python's Lumberjack Song, reworded as if Trump was singing the song.
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.