Saturday, September 17, 2016

Et Tu Nate Silver?

Sigh. When even one of the best political scientists writes things like this, that's all you can do:

"He's always worried Democrats aren't panicking enough. "

"Democrats Should Panic … If The Polls Still Look Like This In A Week."

"Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls has been declining for several weeks, and now we’re at the point where it’s not much of a lead at all. National polls show Clinton only 1 or 2 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump, on average. And the state polling situation isn’t really any better for her. On Thursday alone, polls were released showing Clinton behind in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado — and with narrow, 3-point leads in Michigan and Virginia, two states once thought to be relatively safe for her."

"It’s also become clearer that Clinton’s “bad weekend” — which included describing half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” on Friday, and a health scare (followed by news that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia) on Sunday — has affected the polls. Prior to the weekend, Clinton’s decline had appeared to be leveling off, with the race settling into a Clinton lead of 3 or 4 percentage points. But over the past seven days, Clinton’s win probability has declined from 70 percent to 60 percent in our polls-only forecast and by a similar amount, from 68 percent to 59 percent, in our polls-plus forecast."

Listen, it's probably a good thing if Democrats are concerned. It's telling that Hillary fundraises off of bad numbers and Trump fundraises off of good numbers-relatively good numbers. He hasn't had a lot of them during this campaign. 
I think it's all to the good for Democrats not to be complacent and get that every vote counts and that those who can volunteer, phone bank, can afford to donate, etc. should do just that. 
But this comment by Silver disappoints me:
"Perhaps Trump isn’t that different from a “generic Republican” after all. Or perhaps (more plausibly in my view) he is very poor candidate who costs the Republicans substantially, but thatClinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect. Still, I’d advise waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her “bad weekend” to other subjects."

I guess it disappoints me as I want to believe he's better than this-clearly he's not. He may be a very good political scientist-and he is; he has the record for it, though he utterly failed to see Trump coming in the primary as most of the conventional wisdom did. I didn't fail to see it as long term readers know like Tom Brown know.

As far as well known media figures, Norm Ornstein predicted it at least by late 2015. Liberals were the ones who early got the fact that Trump could win the GOP primary.

But Hillary almost as bad as crypto fascist racist who has traded in birther conspiracies for 6 years, and has now joked again about 2nd Amendment people?

Someone who talks about deporting 12 million people and that all Muslims should be treated like terrorist suspects? Hillary is not much better than that?

In any case, Silver may be slow again to spot a trend. I argued yesterday that there is at least one good sign for Hillary: her approval rating has actually surged the last week.

In the Economist/YouGov poll she was up to 46% approve-53% disapprove. That is the best she's had with YouGov since December of 2015. Then Gallup had her at 40-55. If you want to measure the tightening of the polls against her own favorability numbers, her nadir was late August and early September which had her at 37-58.

Since then her numbers have stabilized and this last week actually saw a 3 point spike.

And now we see her back up by 4 points nationally with Reuters:

"Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads Republican rival Donald Trump by 4 percentage points, and her recent bout with pneumonia doesn't appear to have scared away her supporters, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll."

"The Sept. 9-15 tracking poll showed that 42 percent of likely voters supported Clinton while 38 percent backed Trump. Clinton, who has mostly led Trump in the poll since the Democratic and Republican national conventions ended in July, regained the advantage this week after her lead briefly faded in late August."

1. Lawrence O'Donnell had a great segment on his MSNBC's Last Word the other night. Why would this possibly make her supporters vote for Donald Trump or vote for Gary Johnson-which is a vote for Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is the American Caesar, he is a racist,  crypto fascist nightmare. As the Congressional Black Caucus truly said yesterday, he's simply a disgusting fraud.

A fraud that the media keeps falling for.

Look. I'd vote for her corpse over Trump any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I wish Hillary health and a long life. But let's face it. If something happened, God forbid? That's what Tim Kaine is for. A choice between Tim Kaine and Donald Trump is still a no brainer as should be obvious. 

Donald Trump and any Democrat is a no brainer. 

2. This is an interesting find that Reuters has: that her fade was in late August. It's in line with what I've suspected. I had suspected this week's headlines about it being a tossup were a mirage. I had suspected that the tightening had ended a few weeks ago. As for this week's numbers? I suspect they may be looking in the rearview mirror. 

As Silver himself often says, it usually takes a few weeks to realize a trend has changed. In this case, the media's feeding frenzy over her health muddied the fact that she is regaining her footing. 

Anyway, let's see what happens. This has been a suspicion of mine. The rising favorables seem a good sign. Going by favorability she bottomed out in early September and has since stabilized. 

Now we have at least one poll that confirms this theory. Obviously we need to see more to confirm this theory. 

P.S. I also suspected after her stumble that this might even help her/ It might serve to 'humanize' her in the minds of many who have bought into the media caricature of her that's been sold during this campaign. 

Yes, her favorables have been very mediocre during the campaign but if you take the longer view-her 25 years in national life-she's had many ebbs and flows. She was unpopular in Bill's first term. 

Then she retooled, called out China for its treatment of women, and then garnered sympathy after the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light. 

After Lewinsky, her numbers rose. Then she won two terms as NY Senator handily and was a very popular during that time. Even at the worse moments against Obama in 2008, her favorability never went beneath 48%. 

As Obama's SOS it was at 64% with even most Republicans having a positive view of her. What happened? Was everyone deceived until they realized she used an email server-as recommended by her IT security team? Of course not. 

What happened was politics. But the media makes it sound like her 'unpopularity' is a metaphysical property of the universe rather than a snapshot in time which has ebbed and flowed many times in 25 years. 

And what you do notice-and this may have a lot to do with her being a woman-is that the times her popularity has increased were often when she was more vulnerable. After Bill humiliated her with his affair; after her eyes welled up in 2008 in NH and she pulled off the improbable comeback against Obama. 

So her health scare may well even prove to have helped humanize her again. It's like a family where you take someone for granted until faced with the possibility of their mortality. 

Maybe some Americans are remembering the things they appreciate her for now. 


  1. FWIW, I didn't take FiveThirtyEight's comment that "Clinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect" as a judgment of her as a person or how should would act as President, but rather how she has fared as a candidate.

    I am a Clinton supporter. Not just in a lesser-of-two-evils sort of way, but in a I-supported-her-in-the-08-primary sort of way. I think that if she is ultimately President, it will be a good thing.

    However, Clinton has clear problems as a President. 25 years of being slimed by the Right has tarnished her reputation in the eyes of a lot of people, even people who are generally Democrats. Her long history in politics has also meant that she has held positions that, out of context, look bad (see supporting tough-on-crime laws and AUFM for Iraq War). She also has, for various reasons, a rocky relationship with the press. All of these things make her a less-than-ideal candidate, even if they may not speak to how she would perform as President.

    That being said, I am open to the idea that flesh-and-blood candidates rarely poll as well as the generic democrat or generic republican. Such imaginary candidates tend to have all of the attributes that the person answering the poll want and none of the blemishes in a way that few flesh-and-blood candidates ever could. It is possible that, despite her flaws, Clinton is a better candidate than any that could have actually been fielded in this cycle. She did, after all, win the primary.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I too was a 2008 Hillary supporter.

    Regarding her reputation, as I mentioned above, she was much more popular just a few years ago.

    When she was SOS she had a 64% approval rating. So a lot of this is simply that when your'e running for POTUS you tend to be a lot less popular.

    Recall that in 2011 some on Obama's team were seriously considering dropping Biden for her. Back then the media narrative was that Biden was such a 'gaffe machine' that he was a serious liability.

    There was even a book published making that case.

    Those who say that 'any other Republican could have beaten her' need to say who?

    Ted Cruz? Well, not Ted Cruz, he's too extreme. Jeb Bush? Well, no, he couldn't even get past questions of his last name in interviews.

    Little Marco? Ok, he seems more likely. But he surely had his own weaknesses as demonstrated in his robot glitch in NH and the way he demeaned himself in trying to match Trump insult for insult.

    You may believe that Kasich or Rubio would have beaten her but she sure is doing better against Trump than either of them did.

    So as you note, generic Republicans or generic Democrats don't exist.

  3. ClixSense is the biggest work from home website.

  4. Get daily suggestions and guides for making $1,000s per day ONLINE totally FREE.