Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Last Call For That Poll-Asked Look

If there's been one truly laughable poll this year as far as presidential prognostication goes, it has been the LA Times daily tracking poll, which seems to be favoring Donald Trump compared to everyone else.  And I'm not talking about by a point or two, I'm talking about five or six points in Trump's favor, a poll so awful that as Nate Cohn points out, it only serves the purpose of showing how awful polls can be.

There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election. 
He is sure he is going to vote for Donald J. Trump. 
And he has been held up as proof by conservatives — including outlets like Breitbart News and The New York Post — that Mr. Trump is excelling among black voters. He has even played a modest role in shifting entire polling aggregates, like the Real Clear Politics average, toward Mr. Trump. 
How? He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Mr. Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll. He held the lead for a full month until Wednesday, when Mrs. Clinton took a nominal lead. 
Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent. 
Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump’s margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists. 
He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks. 
How has he made such a difference? And why has the poll been such an outlier? It’s because the U.S.C./LAT poll made a number of unusual decisions in designing and weighting its survey. 
It’s worth noting that this analysis is possible only because the poll is extremely and admirably transparent: It has published a data set and the documentation necessary to replicate the survey. 
Not all of the poll’s choices were bound to help Mr. Trump. But some were, and it all combined with some very bad luck to produce one of the most persistent outliers in recent elections.

And taking a look at the poll it's laughably bad how the data is interpreted by the people running it. The poll is literally designed to favor Trump from the beginning, by bad use of statistical math, and even worse use of common sense.

Still, if Clinton is now ahead in a poll that regularly favors Trump, it means Trump is in serious trouble as of last Friday's events, and I'm betting things will only get worse for him.

The Great American Swap Meet

Nate Silver runs the numbers on the big demographic shift in 2016: non-college educated white voters going to the GOP, college educated white voters, Latino, and Asian voters going to the Democrats.  The results actually go a long way towards explaining recent poll numbers.

Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidency, perhaps by a lot. Republicans are still favored to hold the House. In other words, after all the madness, the balance of power in Washington post-2016 could look surprisingly similar to that after 2012. Yet beneath the surface, the tectonic plates of the American electorate are shifting. 
By now, it's clear where the fault lines lie: The 2016 election is poised to be among the most polarized elections ever, not only along gender and generational lines, but especially along lines of race and educational attainment. 
In August, Nate Cohn of The New York Times put it well when he wrote: “The simple way to think about Mr. Trump’s strength is in terms of education among white voters. He hopes to do much better than Mitt Romney did in 2012 among white voters without a degree so that he can make up the margin of Mr. Romney’s four-point defeat and overcome the additional losses he’s likely to absorb among well-educated voters and Hispanic voters.” 
There’s evidence that Trump is underperforming Romney among Asians andAfrican-Americans, not just Latinos and college-educated whites. Clinton, on the other hand, has been underperforming President Obama among non-college-educated whites. 
To get a handle on how these shifts could affect the electoral landscape, we modeled how many of Romney’s votes came from college-educated whites and minorities and how many of Obama’s votes came from non-college-educated whites in each state, county and congressional district. The difference between these two vote totals, shown in the map above, can tell us where Clinton and Trump have the most potential to build on 2012. 
Then we went a step further: How would the 2016 map look if one out of every five whites without a college degree who voted for Obama in 2012 defected to Trump and if one out of every five non-whites and college-educated whites who voted for Romney in 2012 switched to Clinton? (Why one out of five? It’s a somewhat arbitrary number but represents a realistic shift of these groups, according to polls released over the past few months.) 
Let's call this scenario the “2016 Vote Swap.” In it, Clinton would win the election, and her share of the two-party vote would be 52.7 percent — 0.7 percentage points higher than Obama’s 2012 showing. However, we also estimate she would win 10 fewer electoral votes than Obama did in the Electoral College. 
The shift for Clinton among college-educated whites and non-whites would allow her to pick up North Carolina (15 electoral votes). But the shift among non-college-educated whites would cost her Ohio (18), Iowa (6) and Maine’s 2nd District (1). That's not far off from what polls and FiveThirtyEight’s forecast models show.

And if you look at the forecast for next month, they very much look like the model Nate describes above:  Clinton wins the Obama 2012 map plus NC, minus Iowa and Ohio and Maine's 2nd.

Of course, that was before Trump imploded over the weekend, and indications are that we're looking at a total breakdown of that model, where Trump not only loses all the 2016 swing states but puts Georgia and Arizona in Clinton's column and maybe even Missouri, SC and Texas in play.

Democrats are moving swiftly to exploit Mr. Trump’s crumbling position in the presidential race, aiming to run up a big margin of victory for Mrs. Clinton and extend their political advantage into the congressional elections next month. 
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has concluded that at least two traditionally Republican states, Georgia and Arizona, are realistic targets for her campaign to win over. And Republican polling has found that Mr. Trump is at dire risk of losing Georgia, according to people briefed on the polls, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
Mrs. Clinton now holds such a strong upper hand that Priorities USA, a “super PAC” backing her campaign, may direct some of its war chest into Senate races, two people said, and may begin broadcasting ads for those contests as soon as next week. Congressional Democrats also hope to persuade Mrs. Clinton to continue pouring money and campaign resources into states like Virginia and Colorado, where they believe her victory is assured, in order to lift other Democratic candidates.

Hell, even Utah is up for grabs now.

Republican Donald Trump appears to have, in his earlier words, "a tremendous problem in Utah" as a new poll shows him slipping into a dead heat with Democrat Hillary Clinton since crude comments he made about women surfaced last weekend. 
And along with the billionaire businessman's sudden fall, independent candidate and BYU graduate Evan McMullin surged into a statistical tie with the two major party presidential nominees, according to survey conducted Monday and Tuesday by Salt Lake City-based Y2 Analytics.

"A third-party candidate could win Utah as Utahns settle on one," said Quin Monson, Y2 Analytics founding partner. 
McMullin may well have caught lightning in a bottle. 
The poll shows Clinton and Trump tied at 26 percent, McMullin with 22 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson getting 14 percent if the election were held today. Y2 Analytics surveyed 500 likely Utah voters over landlines and cellphones Oct. 10-11 The poll has a plus or minus 4.4 percent margin of error.

If that's even close to true, things are about to get very interesting with 27 days left to go, and by "interesting" I mean a substantial Clinton victory.

The Goracle's Lament

Presidents Obama and Clinton aren't the only big-name Democrats on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton here in the final stretch, Bill Clinton's former VP Al Gore was in Miami campaigning with Hillary to make the case to younger voters that yeah, every vote in the Sunshine State matters.

Former Vice President Al Gore introduced himself to Florida millennials on Tuesday, telling them that his near miss in the 2000 presidential election is “exhibit A” for why it’s so important to vote.

Campaigning with Hillary Clinton in Miami, Gore highlighted two messages he wanted to share with the former secretary of state’s supporters.

“No. 1, when it comes to the most urgent issue facing our country and the world, the choice in this election is extremely clear. Hillary Clinton will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority,” Gore said. “Very important.”

Donald Trump, whom Gore referred to as “her opponent,” would take America “toward a climate catastrophe,” he said.

Here’s my second message: Your vote really, really, really counts — a lot. You can consider me as an exhibit A of that group. Now, for those of you who are younger than 25, you might not remember the election of 2000 and what happened here in Florida and across the country,” Gore said, prompting boos from the crowd.

“For those of you older than 25, I heard you murmuring just now. But take it from me, it was a very close election,” Gore said, as supporters began to chant “You won! You won!” 
Here’s my point: I don’t want you to be in a position years from now where you welcome Hillary Clinton and say: ‘Actually, you did win. It just wasn’t close enough to make sure that all the votes were counted or whatever," Gore added.

Amen to that, Albert.

One of the reasons I started this blog eight years ago was that having voted in 2000 in Minnesota only to see the White House gifted to Shrub and the Nameless One by the now deceased Antonin Scalia, I realized that if I could get even a few hundred people to read my words and choose to vote across the US, I was doing my civic duty to protect this country from another eight years of Republican presidency.

I remember going to bed on Election Day sixteen years ago confident that Gore had won.  I woke up to an eight-year nightmare that we're still cleaning up after, all over a handful of votes.

Never again.

Please, please, please vote in your local, state, and federal elections.  Please register if you still need to in your state. You still have time in a lot of states.

Let's not turn this into another nightmare, this time with Trump in charge.


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