Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Best Way to Gauge Who Will Win

Doug Sosnik's title won't please a lot of pundits who want to make this as suspenseful as possible. But Sosnik goes ahead and tells us who will win 2016.

The 2016 election is already decided. History says Hillary Clinton wins.

Many might protest that the voting is not for over five months. But I think his resaoning is fairly compelling.

It is no more complicated than two words: President Obama. He is popular, so Hillary-who is effectively running as his VP-will win.

"If history is any guide, the outcome of this year’s presidential election has already been decided."

"With the exception of 2000, the result of every presidential election since, and including, 1980 has been determined before the general election even officially began. In fact, most of these elections were effectively decided by this point in the cycle."

"The single best predictor of the electoral outcome is the job approval of the incumbent president — even one who’s not on the ballot. In four of the five elections since 1980 when the incumbent president’s job approval was at or above 50 percent, that party held the White House. The outlier was 2000, when President Bill Clinton enjoyed a 57 percent job approval rating in October yet Al Gore “lost” to George W. Bush."

"In the three elections when the incumbent’s job approval fell below 40 percent in the final year of his term, the party suffered overwhelming defeats."

You have to say that at least on a historical basis, this is very predictive. Gore of course arguably didn't really lose-I certainly never thought so and even Katherine Harris' buddy Mac Stipanovic pretty coyly admitted as much recently.

But you can also argue that it would not have been so close if Gore had not run from Bill Clinton. Yes, Gore was embarrassed of Clinton's zipper problem but did he really think anyone would think that of him?

As for Carter, his approval rating was awful even if Jon Anderson's third party moderate challenge to Reagan made the race seem closer than it was.

"Some might argue that Jimmy Carter’s experience in 1980 disproves my point about races being decided by this point, but it doesn’t. True, Carter was leading in national polls in a three-way race (remember John Anderson?) until mid-October. But by June 1980, Carter’s job approval had dropped to 31 percent — and it never significantly improved during the remainder of the campaign."

"The nature of a three-way race masked the core of public dissatisfaction with Carter and prolonged until the end of the election the consolidation of the nearly 70 percent anti-Carter vote, which ultimately resulted in Ronald Reagan’s landslide win. By the beginning of the summer of 1980, with 2 out of 3 Americans disapproving of Carter’s performance in office, there was little doubt that the country would not give him four more years."

We can argue about outliers or cherrypicked numbers. The overall picture though is she's leading by an average of 7 points nationally and she's now leading in every 'battleground' state accept Georgia according to RCP.

And RCP refused to factor in the Ballotopedia poll-I guess they presumed it's an outlier. So she leads in all those swing states despite not counting Ballotopedia.

Predictably they did count the Quinnipiac poll which shows it at just a two point race nationally.

Harry Enten:

"I guess my favorite part of the Ballotpedia thing is their "overall" result has Clinton +11 over Trump. Not too different from the ABC poll."

Point is that there should be "outliers". Not everything should be too neat. And don't try to outsmart the polls.

"When the numbers were different, folks usually look for a reason to dismiss the numbers. I see nothing wrong in the methodology per se (2/?)"

Since Clinton became presumptive nominee she leads by 4 (Susa), 6 (Q-Pac), 3 (YouGov), 13 (St Leo), 13 (Ballotpedia) in Florida polls..

So that would give her a 7.2 percent lead there-on average. Considering that any Democrat starts with about 243 electoral votes, this is enough by itself to make it over.

Don't get me wrong. We don't want to be complacent. Like Obama says, we should play scared.

Complacency is not good but the antidote to complacency is not panic.

The media desperately wants to sell a close race and one where Hillary is in terrible trouble. We don't want to be complacent but we also don't want to get taken in by nonsense.

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