Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Almost Over

Donald Trump has had the worst month in modern political campaigns in American politics.

Starting with his truly horrendous performance in the first debate, onward through the Venezuelan Miss Universe Twitter tirade, pivot to the airing of the 2005 "locker room" comments (likely with more to come), a marginally better, but still poor second debate, and wrapping up with prominent GOP officials including Speaker Ryan and Senator McCain effectively abandoning his campaign...other than that it was a great month for the Trump Train.

Trump loyalists continue to delude themselves that they can come back and win. They cite non-scientific internet polls, the size of his rallies, and an earnest belief that Hillary Clinton is truly the Devil (Trump's own words from the second debate) to back up their claim that theirs is a nationwide movement that the elites and Establishment cannot understand and this movement is waiting to sweep him into office. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that make it clear to me that Hillary Clinton will indeed be elected the 45th president; likely by a large margin.

It is true that Clinton has very high unfavorable ratings. It is correct to say that she has a cloud of scandal around her (at least in the minds of many Americans) and that she is not seen as trustworthy. She certainly represents the status quo in terms of policy. In any "normal" election year the fundamentals would favor a generic Republican - but this year is far from normal.

I see the electoral map looking something like this the morning of November 8.

Map generated by 270towin.com

The above map is based upon the polling as of October 11, 2016. If anything, this map is being a bit generous to Trump. Georgia is certainly at risk along with Missouri and possibly even Alaska. I will update this in a couple of weeks as more data comes in.

Why is Clinton going to win?

In short:
  • Although Clinton has high negatives, Trump's are even higher
  • A United Democratic party (maybe a few Bernie Sanders voters will defect), a very obviously split and disunified GOP.
  • On policy, Clinton is seen as better on social issues and defense. Trump is seen as better on the economy and jobs, but not by enough to win.
  • The Democrats have a built in advantage from the beginning in the Electoral College with a blue wall in the Northeast and the West Coast. They can count on at least 230 EVs running a generic candidate and only have to win a couple of swing states to get to 270. there is a much steeper climb for the GOP. Couple this with several heretofore red states now being competitive...
  • Changing demographics are favoring the Democrats.
  • Clinton has a far superior ground game. This may be a low turnout election where GOTV efforts will really matter.
  • Voter concerns about Trump's overall fitness for office, Clinton is seen by most voters as qualified - even if they dislike her.
  • Minorities will turn out heavily against Trump swinging AZ and FL. The immigration rhetoric may end up solidifying the Hispanic vote almost as solidly as the African-American vote for the Democrats for at least a generation. 
  • White college-educated voters, long a mainstay of the GOP will likely break to Clinton putting key states like CO, VA, and PA in Clinton's camp.
  • There is an enormous gender gap in favor of Clinton. The Trump tapes will likely make it a chasm.
  • Trump cannot go 12 (let alone 24) hours without some sort of gaffe that reinforces already poor perceptions of him.
  • There is likely to be more damaging tapes/revelations about Trump's personal life. Clinton will experience more bad releases from Wikileaks, but by now candidate perceptions are already too "baked in" to move the needle very much.
  • Trump's taxes: drip, drip, drip...
  • Voters who are upset about the Clinton's and Bill Clinton's sexual past are already voting for Trump. Trump's line of attack on this is unlikely to work. He needs to get back moderate Republicans and college educated women. This is a desperate attempt to disqualify Clinton. He is best to focus his energy on issues where he already has a lead such as the economy.
  • The nation's economy, although not humming is doing just well enough to favor the incumbent party. 
  • No candidate with this large a lead in October (as of Oct. 11 between 5 and 10 points) has blown it - ever. (Jimmy Carter only had a lead of this size in 1980 in one outlier poll and Trump is no Ronald Reagan)
  • Johnson and Stein, like most minor party candidates are unlikely to play spoiler in any state (unlike Perot and Nader) and seem to be drawing pretty evenly off both Trump and Clinton - thus a wash. 
Again, this is not a situation where Clinton is beloved - she is winning largely due to the GOP nominating a candidate with very poor qualities and she is able to leverage the aforementioned advantages that Democrats enjoy in a presidential race.

Trump's core voters will turn out, but not in sufficient numbers to win key states like PA, FL,AZ, NC, and VA. Ohio is a state ready-made for Trump in terms of demographics and it appears to be slipping out of reach as well. That's the ballgame.

I do see ME and NB splitting their electoral votes. the Omaha area and northern Maine are not representative of their states in general.

Electoral College Prediction
Clinton 358
Trump 180

National Vote Percentage
Clinton      49%
Trump       42%
Johnson     6%
Stein           3%


The Prof