Princeton Election Consortium

Innovations in democracy since 2004

Outcome: Biden 306 EV (D+1.2% from toss-up), Senate 50 D (D+1.0%)
Nov 3 polls: Biden 342 EV (D+5.3%), Senate 50-55 D (D+3.9%), House control D+4.6%
Moneyball states: President AZ NE-2 NV, Senate MT ME AK, Legislatures KS TX NC

On CNN Digital: watch the data, not the drama

November 3rd, 2016, 8:00pm by Sam Wang

So, Julian Zelizer and I had an e-chat about next Tuesday on CNN Digital. Mostly themes you know!

Tags: 2016 Election · President · Senate

35 Comments so far ↓

  • Amitabh Lath

    “I am always impressed how you have such nerves of steel on the predictions. Did they teach that in grad school?”

    Why yes Prof. Zelizer. After the third or fourth time getting all excited about a potential 2 sigma anomaly that disappears with higher statistics, you tend to develop a tolerance.

  • 538 Refugee

    While we sweat out the down ballot maybe we can amuse ourselves with the conundrum of the First Gentleman’s ‘gown’ to be donated to the Smithsonian. Maybe this is something Trump can seize on to turn the tide?

  • Ruth Rothschild

    Interesting conversation between you and Professor Zelizer, Sam. Some interesting insights. When I read stuff about New Hampshire and people mentioning stuff about neither candidate reaching 270 EV and the House having to decide the next president, it gets me nervous. But using the logic of your statistical analysis puts it in better perspective for me and calms me down somewhat. And, when I see the Meta-Margin track down to +2.7% for Clinton after being at just over +5% a few weeks ago, I have to remind myself to look at how many polls were included in your analysis and put that into perspective, along with the fact that these 206 polls likely include outliers. I’m just so looking forward to next Tuesday being over with. This has, indeed, been an emotional election, which I believe in large part is because of fears over Trump and what he stands for and the dangerous path he could lead this country down if elected.

    Thanks again for this site and for presenting things in a logical and scientific way and leaving out the emotional element associated with fluctuations in the numbers. I really appreciate this.

    • Wendy

      You took the words out of my mouth, thanks.
      PEC is the only thing keeping me sane right now.

    • Matt McIrvin

      New Hampshire is a little unusual: a battleground state that is super-white. Iowa has been another, but it seems to be a lost cause for Clinton this year, and in fact it just went deeper red.

      I have a theory that the Comey/FBI saga mainly increased racial polarization: it hurt Clinton with undecided or marginally Democratic white voters, who genuinely trust the FBI as an apolitical cop agency and would take a lot of persuading not to interpret “under FBI investigation” as “did something wrong”, but probably helped energize minorities. I don’t see her losing a lot of ground in swing states where her support is minority-heavy.

  • MarkS

    The electoral-vote histogram looks like it has about 2% of the outcomes in Trump territory. (The green regions at both ends should total 5%, and a little less than half of that appears to be in Trump territory.) So if Trump has a 2% chance of winning today, how is it that he has a <1% chance of winning on election day? Is this a regression-to-the-mean effect from the prior?

  • Ed Wittens Cat

    Guys, lighten up
    Jon Stewart goes to war ;)

    • Ruth Rothschild

      Ed Wittens Cat,
      Thanks for sharing the Jon Stewart video. Hilarious. We need lighter moments like this– a comic relief break. :-)

  • Ed Wittens Cat

    to avoid gulag, i will separate out my more frivolous comments– u decide which is which.
    this was a great podcast, the best yet.
    but i dont think u guys really grasp the coming war for the GOP base. Trump paid 275 million for his digital facebook based project– the appropriately named Alamo– aka the Last Stand.
    the RNC gave Trump their 100 million$ legacy db, aka Son of Orca. Trump has control of and access to the deplorable half of the GOP base– bought and paid for.
    Traditionally the GOP base blames their candidate for losing– see Romney 2012. Its why GOP blew up their own version of superdelegates and how Trump got in. Other reason Trump got in was Citizens United– he could self-fund until he captured the nom. The GOP blew up their own control structures.
    Now Ryan and the sane half of the GOP understand that Trumpism is deathpoison going forward– its demographic doom.
    So there will be war.
    the true test of Wang Polarization Theory is if the GOP can reassemble under Trumpism.
    much like the quantum teacup, i think its not possible.
    and btw Amitabh…thats why Dr Witten is correct and particle theorists will always be disappointed.
    May the Math be with you.

    • Olav Grinde

      Now Ryan and the sane half of the GOP…

      What has the world come to when Paul Ryan is considered “part of the sane half” of the GOP? Ryan is an extreme Randian! And if he had espoused his proposed Ayn-Rand-inspired dismantling of the social safety net 20 or 30 years ago, his Republican colleagues would have ridiculed him.

    • Shawn Huckaby

      If you want to hear a fascinating discussion of ‘Project Alamo’, how Trump used the RNC to build it, and now owns it post election, I recommend this episode of Slate’s ‘Trumpcast’

      The next two years are going to be fascinating to watch.

    • Ruth Rothschild

      Ed Wittens Cat,
      I agree that the fallout from this election will continue long after the election results are in and the President, no matter which party, is in office. But my question to you is: Doesn’t Sarah Palin also fit into this equation somewhere in having given rise to Trump even getting as far as he did on the Republican ticket in the first place? And, it seems to me that the current GOP position and philosophy has its roots starting in the mid-90s with the legacy of Newt Gingrich and has then continued to take deeper root and blossom over the years by the likes of Palin and the Teabaggers (aka Tea Party), which formed in protest of an African American president. Now, as Sam said in his e-chat, the chickens seem to be coming home to roost. I believe that we’re in for a long haul of ineffective governance as a result of the GOP being at war within itself, between its more moderate and more conservative factions. Maybe it’s a matter of both how much ineffective governance and obstructionism the American people can take before we say enough and also how many years in a row a Democratic president occupies the Oval Office before the GOP realizes that it needs to get its act together, clean up its house, and swing back to the more moderate stance it held decades ago. Time will tell.

      One thing that keeps coming to my mind in this election and is brought home by Sam’s articles and peoples’ posts at this site is something that I learned in US History my Jr. year of high school and that seems to have come to fruition: In his farewell speech to the American people in 1796, George Washington very strongly advised against the formation of political parties because he saw them as a danger to the government and to the country, itself. Washington warned that political parties could interfere with the cohesiveness of our nation and cause sectionalism (i.e., restriction of interest to a narrow sphere) both in the government and in the country, as a whole, because of the tendency for political parties to seek more power than other groups and to take revenge on political opponents. He also warned about obstructionism by political factions who stated that they were doing stuff in the name of representing the popular interests and beliefs of the American people, when it was really driven by these factions’ own self-interest. Throughout history, we’ve seen the things that Washington warned against regarding political parties, but it seems that civility was always restored and groups/parties could work together to reach consensus to continue effectively governing this country. Unfortunately, with the advent of the Newt Gingrich era in the mid-90s and the election of our first African American president in 2008, Washington’s warnings have come to be realized more than ever before, and there may be no turning back and getting on to a better path, either for the GOP or for US politics, in general. Maybe US politics has reached a critical mass that can no longer be corrected unless there is a return to consensus, cohesiveness, civility, and a true interest in putting country before self-interest and career aspirations.

    • JFCC

      Wars require two sides. Ryan and the so-called “sane” half of the GOP have already capitulated. There is no “principled” group of GOP politicians or elites that is going to stand up to the base. There might be some attempts at leverage by the Koch brothers types, who care far less about social issues than their libertarian/free market agendas, but their ideas just aren’t that popular among the base.

      Thus the goal will be to convert the base to the “sane” ideas to whatever extent is possible (given polarization, probably fairly easy) and then continue to try to use non-democratic methods (gerrymandering, voter suppression, leaks and investigations, and Supreme Court challenges) to achieve their goals.

      It could be a losing strategy that will offer diminishing returns, but that’s basically a description of the conservative agenda, no? Standing athwart history and saying, “Slow down? Please?”

      I don’t think the current state of affairs will change much until a.) we get a boom economy that lightens the national mood or b.) there’s a major crisis of some sort (climate change, war, depression, etc.). I would love to believe the GOP will wake up to what they’re doing, approve any judges HRC (if she wins) will appoint, etc., but I just don’t see that happening. Not for HRC at least.

      Here’s what I’m wondering. Let’s say the GOP does get it together enough to start major outreach efforts toward nonwhite demographics. Who is it, and how do they do it? I’m thinking Hispanics, since they’re probably the group they have the best chance with. I will be pretty amazed if the next GOP presidential candidate (whoever it is, even if it comes after a Trump presidency) uses language anything like Trump’s in regard to Hispanics, Mexico, etc.

      They might start courting Asians as well, since I don’t think either party has ever really targeted them that much (I don’t think? I could be wrong about that). Lot of possibilities, particularly since unlike Hispanics or blacks, there isn’t quite the same history of racial discrimination toward Asians in America (there’s still plenty of it, but it’s not as much a part of the national conversation – that horrible Fox News report aside – and therefore, it would probably be easier to get past the base).

      As for how they do it, aside from the Koch brothers’ libertarian school farms or whatever those are, I’m not sure.

    • Ruth Rothschild

      I want to clarify a statement I made about George Washington’s warnings in his farewell address, in response to Ed Wittens Cat’s Trumpism post, lest anyone reading my response construes that statement or me as being racist (which I’m not):

      I had stated in that part of my response: “Unfortunately, with the advent of the Newt Gingrich era in the mid-90s and the election of our first African American president in 2008,…..”. I am in no way saying that it’s unfortunate that we elected an African American president in 2008. In fact, I voted for Obama both in 2008 and 2012. What I should have stated instead was “…. and the results (or even fallout) from the election of our first African American president in 2008,…..” The Newt Gingrich era is, however, unfortunate in that it has taken us down a path that leaves us in the mess our governance has been in in recent times.

    • Shawn Huckaby

      JFCC – Interesting comments. Given your statement that there aren’t any “principled” elites left in the party, I don’t see who could possibly be in charge of an effort to convert the base to saner ideas . The entire point of Trump’s Alamo Project is to monetize and weaponize his base voters. Whether that be to support a new media venture, or to reshape the GOP in a new Breitbartian/Jonesian direction, or just to grift them with gold coins and dried food rations remains to be seen.

      If I had to guess, I think the Republican party will regroup under the banner of investigation and obstruction for the next two years. Grievances will be buried just below the surface as the party doubles down on the losing strategy pioneered by Newt during Clinton 1. Since the playing field is so much more GOP friendly for the 2018 race, I’m positive this kind of short-term thinking will prevail.

      It’s after 18 that things get more interesting. The American public is already sick of this entire process. Republicans were rightly punished for their obstruction and job-avoidance in the 90’s–I don’t see it going any better this time around. The combination of investigation fatigue, impeachment talk (or worse), and a non-functioning SCOTUS will make prospects going into the next Presidential cycle very bleak for the GOP.

      And then there’s that approaching freight train of demographics. At least one Republican presidential candidate is going to realize that the only viable path forward will be to become the new “compassionate conservative”, and stake their flag in the center of the electorate. At that point the GOP civil war will be forced into the open.

      The only choice as I see it for the GOP is to be either a rump or a regional party. I don’t see the foresight or political will to make the hard choices to reshape it into a viable choice for the 21st century electorate.

      How many years did it take for the Cubs to make it back to the top? ;)

    • Ed Wittens Cat

      tyvm for the thoughtful responses guyz
      right on point, the Freedom Caucus goes to war with Paul Ryan

  • Brian Bodel

    I’m getting genuinely worried by the changing numbers in NH. Your overall win probability doesn’t seem to be responding to the fact that NH is looking like more and more of a toss-up. Is there something I’m missing here, because my confidence in a Hillary victory is basically predicated on her being able to keep NH (as well as Penn, Winsonsin and Colorado). Maybe her numbers in Florida or North Carolina should be inspiring confidence in her win chances somehow? I’m not sure why they would, seeing as they both look like a toss-up, only slightly leaning towards Hillary.

  • Michael M

    Hi Sam,
    Any views on what Remington is doing?

    Remington has zero polling track record, is a Republican pollster/operator and did no polls prior to 20 October. Then they polled only those swing states where Trump was behind (Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida). And they polled all of them twice, so that they appear twice in many avarages of latest polls in each state as of today. In nearly all cases they are show the most pro-Trump outcome of any poll (or close to it), and they always show Trump polling far better than any average of independent polls. But never so far towards Trump that it becomes completely rediculous. And in 7 of 8 states they show an inprovement between their two polls of exactly 1 point (in Florida an inprovement of 4 points which also happens to be just what is needed if you want to get the average of recent polls close to zero).

    Of course it cannot be proven that this is an attempt to ”hack” 538, RCP etc. and the media narrative, but I don’t see how it could look more suspicious without being removed from averages as an obvious fake/”hacking”.

  • Jim Wright

    The ABC/WaPo tracker has moved from Trump +1 on Tuesday to HRC +3 today. It’s a single poll, hey, it’s something.

  • Johnny

    Suppose there would in fact be 3 polls in a row showing a Trump lead in Michigan, or in Pennsylvania, or both, how much would that change the probability of a Clinton win?

  • Matt McIrvin

    There’s a rash of wild results in New Hampshire–an ARG poll that is Trump +5, a couple of mainstream media polls that show it tied up, and SurveyMonkey has Clinton +10. I assume it’s going to go white with the next update. The hard-fought Senate campaign is probably jangling people

    • Matt McIrvin

      …If NH goes wacky in a way that is inconsistent with the national trends right in the home stretch, it might reduce its utility as an early indicator on Election Night.

    • liberal

      Already people (not you, I know) are freaking out about the NH polls.

  • Bernard

    At the risk of sounding like the 538 folks, I wonder how much any of us trust the 99%+ number. Would anyone here really be willing to offer Trump bettors 100-1 odds at this point as implied by the win probability? How about 50-1? 20-1?

    • Sam Wang

      If I were a betting person, I would accept odds that were intermediate between PEC’s and someone else’s stated probability. For example, the Upshot is at around 85%, so I would take a 10-1 or 20-1 bet. But you realize those are low-payoff bets.

  • TeddyVienna

    Right on cue, the meta-margin is inching upward again. One of the few times you’ll see left-leaning people cheering for regression.

  • CSL

    It seems like we’ve hit an inflection point on those sites that had the most exaggerated tightening – predictwise has bounced as well. Seems like the “both sides do it” news cycle has decided it is time to divvy out the abuse (sarcasm intended here). Working hard here in NC – and thanks, Sam, for your incredibly important work.

  • Ed Wittens Cat

    A very important thing about this election is the normalization of previously beyond the pale actions and words. Like Dr Wang said, it will persist and increase in further elections.
    Its like culture is undergoing entropic decay.
    The intervention of the FBI in a presidential election is particularily terrifying to me– in 2024 will we see other organs of government attempting to influence the election?
    Comey’s actions seem treasonous in that damaging a pre-election presidential candidate weakens them if they attain the high office, and only one degree of separation from the banana republic we seem to be devolving into.

    • Scott J. Tepper

      Well, we are seeing the Executive Branch trying to influence the election, too. Which is unprecedented when the candidate is not the incumbent. (Of course, the FBI is part of that very same Branch.)

      The pundits at (the only other site I am reading right now, and that one solely for the punditry) are essentially predicting Comey won’t last the inauguration. Good riddance, too.

      Right now we’ve got two Branches exerting various pressures on the election directly. And the Judicial Branch doing so somewhat more indirectly.

      At the end of the day, it’s all politics.And while things are now uncomfortably coarse, they were just as bad in the middle to late 19th century.

  • 538 Refugee

    Interesting article on future voting at the WSJ.

  • Drew

    Does anybody know how I can get Sam’s historical probability values for each state and the final EV? I see one csv without dates and no state level dates?

  • Jeff

    Thanks for the bug. A little humor doesn’t hurt at this time…

  • Ed Wittens Cat

    So when u tole me that Comey’s announcement wasnt a result of polarization but the result was…were u wrong?
    from ur TL

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