Nate Silver has the best record around for calling electoral college results in presidential elections. In 2008, he correctly called 50 of the 51 states’ electoral college results. The 51st “state” was Washington, D.C. (He missed Indiana by 1%.) In 2012, he called all 51 correctly.
What makes Nate so successful is that he goes beyond poll averaging and uses probability theory. And no, I’m not going to go into the details of probability theory, this post is going to be nerdy enough with all the numbers and “weighting” and the different types of poll forecasts. Being a non math major myself, I’m going to try to explain all this in language real people speak. If you’re into esoterica, I’ll provide some links so you can nerd-out to your heart’s delight.
As to the “weighting” I referred to above, that can be explained easily: ALL POLLS ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY! Different pollsters have different histories when it comes to accuracy and different pollsters have different biases. (Kind of explains those commissioned by Bullshit Mtn, as well as some others.) Nate takes those factors into consideration when he “weights” his polls. For the nerdy among you, you can check out those ratings here.
If you check out Nate’s projection web page, you’ll find three sets of projections;
- “Polls only” is based only on polls from a particular state; for example, only polls of New Hampshire are used in the New Hampshire forecast.
- “Polls plus” is based on state polls, national polls and endorsements.
- “If the election were held today” (I think you can figure out this one all by yourself.)
Ok, enough preamble, let’s get to the good stuff.
Yesterday, (6/29/16) Nate released his first projection for the 2016 general election. If you’re a Dem, it’s a doozy! If you’re a Regressive, not so much and if you’re a Trump (aka “hairball”) chump, you might look for a convenient cliff to take a flying leap off of.
If the election were held today, (6/3o/16) Hillary would get 47.8% of the vote, compared to hairball getting 42.1%, giving her an 81.3% chance of winning the election, as opposed to hairballs chances of 18.7%. She would rake in 338.3 electoral votes to hairball’s 199.1 and Libertarian, Gary Johnson’s .6%. (Yeah, I know electoral votes don’t come in tenths, but we’re talking mathematical probability here.)
In the “polls only” projection, the numbers are 49.0% – 41.8% (popular vote) and 352.4 -184.4 (electoral vote); giving her an 80.2% to 19.7% advantage.
The “polls plus” projection looks a bit better for hairball, but not much. There it’s 48.7% – 44.4% (p.v.) and 318.0 – 219.8 (e.c.) giving her a 73.8% – 28.2% chance of winning.
But, what’s really interesting in the projections are this cycle’s “swing states.” A couple of the “usual suspects” are there: Ohio and Florida, but this time around, Missouri, Arizona and North Carolina make the list, with Georgia not too far behind. (The times, they are a changin’.)
Now, bear in your mind (if you’ve got the room up there) that things do change. In politics a week is a year. Therefore, projections also change. Nate updates his every day. If you want to keep up, here’s the page.