Friday, September 30, 2016

Trump v. Clinton, State and National polls 9/30

Tonight Nate Silver Tweeted:

I've been compiling the state polls and right now the state polls add up to roughly a Clinton lead by 2.5%. Is Silver wrong? Maybe, maybe not. It's worth noting that Silver's 538 website has Hillary Clinton up by 3.1%, not 4.3%. Silver is saying post-debate, however, and it's possible that he's including some polls that have pre-debate data. My aggregation of the states includes pre and post debate data as well. In an ideal situation I use a minimum of two polls from the past week to get my numbers. Sometimes there aren't two and I'm forced to use ones from the week before or even two weeks before. There are many states, including the largest ones, that are rarely polled. So I'm either forced to use older data or use data from Internet only polls. Those numbers give me something to go on, but I'm not excited about their accuracy.

My aggregate tells me that if Clinton is indeed leading by 4.3% expect the state polls to move further in her direction. Colorado, Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania are very close in recent state polls. If the race moves toward Donald Trump just a bit he might pick those states up. If this race were to be won by Hillary Clinton by less than 1%, I'd favor Trump to win the electoral college. It still looks like it favors him.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Trump v. Clinton, State and National polls 9/23

I've updated the spreadsheet. You'll find that here. I'm using the most recent polls when figuring out the states because the polls have moved a lot recently. Using a poll that's several weeks old doesn't keep up with how the race has changed. I'm finding the traditional pollsters to be more consistent. The Internet only pollsters, IPSOS and Google Consumer Surveys, have produced funky results. Google has Hillary Clinton winning Republican strongholds like South Dakota, Montana, and Kansas, while it has Trump running even with Clinton in Democratic New Jersey and him winning big in New Hampshire. I only included those surveys when there were no other polls. Due to a lack of surveys I have Trump leading in New Mexico, even though he was never close to her the last few times traditional pollsters polled the state.

I find the state polls consistent with a Clinton lead of 1.9%. That's down from 2.9% two weeks ago. Trump is much closer in the electoral college. He's behind 296-242, compared with 323-215 on September 2. Trump is relatively close in Florida, Colorado, and Maine, suggesting he could win the electoral college even while losing the popular vote. It may all come down to Florida. I don't think Trump can win without winning that state. Clinton can, but winning there would cement her victory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clinton Winning the Popular Vote but Losing the Electoral College Could Happen

A friend alerted me to these polls of western states. I don't know the pollster but that doesn't mean they can't be accurate. My friend said that the Presidential numbers look like what you'd expect.

Not so fast. The one I want to focus on is California. Hillary Clinton leads by 27 points. This is generally on the high side, although Ipsos had her leading by 38 points. California will provide roughly 10% of all votes. So every point a candidate wins in California contributes 0.1 points to their margin. So the margin Hillary Clinton wins California by will greatly impact the final margin.

Right now 538 says that Clinton holds a 1.5 point lead over Trump. That's roughly 2.5 points less than Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney. Yet Barack Obama won California by 23 points. If Hillary Clinton is winning non-competitive California by 27 points, then Donald Trump is doing a lot better than Mitt Romney in a lot of other states. To get the margin down from 4 points to 1.5 points Trump could have a 6 point better margin in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Of course Trump could also be doing much better than Romney in non-competitive states. The problem there is that the state with the second most votes, Texas, also looks better for Clinton than Obama. I'm not predicting that Hillary Clinton will win the popular vote but lose the electoral college, but it does seem like a real possibility.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Presidential-Senate comparison

For months both Democrats and Republicans have shouted that Donald Trump was going to kill Republicans down ballot and help Democrats regain control of the Senate and, maybe, the House. Some people said that Clinton would beat Trump by 20 points or more. That never happened. In fact, Clinton never led Trump by more than 4 points in the Real Clear Politics average and Trump is currently leading. 538 still has Clinton as the favorite but the lead is narrow. While either candidate might win, it seems safe to say that the Clinton landslide appears unlikely.

If Trump isn't doing poorly then he's not likely to kill Republicans down ballot. I postulated that Trump wouldn't matter that much because Republican voters could vote for Clinton or Johnson for President and Republicans down ballot. Trump's improvement might help Republican senate candidates somewhat but the chart below says that there isn't that close a relationship between the Presidential and Senate candidates.

That isn't necessarily bad news for Democrats. Trump has gotten closer in Colorado and Wisconsin, but the Republicans in those states are running far behind Trump. Despite Trump having healthy leads in Indiana and Missouri, Republican senate candidates are way behind him in those states. On the other hand, Trump's struggles in Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa haven't brought a Republican lead below 13.7% in any of those states. It appears Republican and Democratic chances aren't that closely tied to Trump.

One thing Democrats bring up is that Hillary Clinton is going to have a vastly superior GOTV operation. She'll be better at turning out Democrats than Trump will be Republicans an that's going to help Democrats down ballot. That may be the case, but Republicans down ballot will have to do their own GOTV effort, something they've done well in non-Presidential years of 2010 and 2014.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trump v. Clinton, State and National polls 9/9

Donald Trump is doing better than he was a week ago. Real Clear Politics says the race is Clinton +2.1 nationally. Using 538, I got Clinton +2.9. If you don't like my 2.9 number, and like the 2.1, I'll make you happier at the end of this post. There were new Internet polls for all 50 states that we can add to the IPSOS and SurveyMonkey polls to give us a good idea in each state. I know my numbers are heavier on Internet only polls, but I'm using the average of recent polls, polling ended sometime in September, to give us an idea of what each state could look like if the final national total is 2.9 points.

Spreadsheet is here.

When the national margin was 4 points, Hillary Clinton had a 338-200 electoral vote victory. With the gap 1.1 points closer, her electoral margin has narrowed to 323-215. Trump takes Ohio and Nebraska. Clinton takes New Hampshire and Maine. These are the closest states Hillary Clinton is winning in the current polling.

Florida: Clinton +1.0
North Carolina: Clinton +1.0
Michigan: Clinton +2.4
Wisconsin: Clinton +2.5
New Hampshire: Clinton +3.1

If the gap is actually 2.1 points, Trump might be winning Florida and North Carolina. That'd put the electoral vote at 279-259 for Clinton. It's a thin margin. If Trump were to move ahead, even by a small margin, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire might also flip and that'd give Trump as many as 289 electoral votes, a comfortable win. So the electoral college looks like it favors Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, as is commonly thought. Hillary Clinton has little margin of error if the race gets much closer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Where Trump and Clinton are Doing Better

When it comes to Presidential elections states tend to vote similarly to how they voted in the previous election. In 2008 Barack Obama won by 7 points and won Nevada by 12. In 2012 he won by 4 and won Nevada by 7. He won by 3 less points overall. The change from 2008 to 2012 was within 4 points of that (Obama gaining 1 to Romney gaining 7) in 39 of 51 states/DC. Based on the Internet polls, however, only 19 of 50 states, no one has polled DC, are within 4 points either way of 2012.

There is a caveat to looking at the changes here. We're using only two polls and both of them are Internet polls. Still, I'm not looking to hit a particular number, just that the number falls outside of a 4 point change. Since Trump is doing 1-2 points better than Romney, I'll include states where Trump's margin of win or loss is more than 6 better than Romney. They are listed in the biggest improvement to least.

Rhode Island
New York
New Jersey

Barack Obama won all these states except Indiana. These states are mostly fairly white but ones where Barack Obama did well with the white voters. They are largely in the northeast with a few in the midwest. They probably have more white working class voters than most other states. The bad news for Donald Trump is that only Maine, Iowa, and Michigan are states he can flip. New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio are just beyond this list.

Here are states Hillary Clinton has at least a 4 point better margin better than Barack Obama. Considering that Clinton is losing 1-2 points off Obama's margin, this is 6-7 point better margin than Barack Obama had.

West Virginia
South Carolina
South Dakota

Mitt Romney won all these states. Clinton is showing the biggest improvement in the plains states and the border south (Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia). A few Deep South states (South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia) are further down the list. These states are ones that Romney got at least 60% of white vote, probably more than 70% in some. Trump seems to be losing the more libertarian plains/mountain states than the evangelical southern states. It's conceivable that Texas, Arizona, and Georgia could become competitive.

These polls might not reflect actual voting but it's interesting that Trump improves most in blue states and Clinton in red states. They also follow a pattern of Trump picking up working class white voters Mitt Romney didn't appeal to and losing libertarian white voters who must've liked Romney.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Trump v. Clinton, State and National polls 9/2

The purpose of measuring the state and national polls is to see if they align and how the states will turn out if the national number proves to be accurate on election day. I've refined me methodology in an attempt to get the state and national polls to align. The more I thought about it there wasn't a lot of information that could be gleaned from having the state polls as Clinton +6.4% and national polls as Clinton +4.5%. All you got out of it was that Trump was probably doing better than the state polls. What you didn't know was how much better in each state.

I'm using state polls that were conducted no later than August 22. There's been a shift toward Donald Trump and I want to capture that. In some cases I'm only using the IPSOS poll that was conducted ending August 25. In normal circumstances I wouldn't only use one poll, but I'm doing so for two reasons. First, older polls are more skewed toward Clinton and the idea is to see how the states will play out based on where the election is now. Second, I'm trying to find out how the states will play out if the national number is accurate. Thus, the most important thing is to get the state margin and national margin to align, not to worry about whether states might be a little off. I'm trying to show what the state number would be with this national margin, not making a definitive prediction.

Fortunately, there is at least one current poll in 43 states. The states without a current poll are all small with 3-4 electoral votes. For these states I used FiveThirtyEight's election day estimates. Even if these are off the number of votes in each state don't really impact the national percentage. I made adjustments to two large states, California and Texas. The Ipsos poll has Hillary Clinton winning California by 36%. Barack Obama won California by 23%. An increase that dramatic doesn't align with the other state and national polls and really skews the state result. I gave Clinton a 17% win. Ipsos had Trump winning Texas by 13%. I bumped that to 18%. Without these adjustments Clinton wins by 6.2%. With them she wins by 4.0%.

Some of you might cry foul. How can I change two polls but keep the rest? This exercise is to see how the states will play out based on the current national percentage. If I used the unusual California and Texas numbers the state total would be out of whack. I don't feel adjusting all states by 2.2% to the 4.0% would get more representative numbers.

The new spreadsheet is here. Clinton wins the electoral college by 338-200. The good news for Trump is that Clinton might not have the electoral college advantage people think she has. Clinton leads in Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin by 2 points or less. These states are worth 73 electoral votes, enough to put Trump over the top. Thus, it's possible that Trump could lose the national vote by 1.0-1.5% and still win the electoral college.

A Clinton backer might believe that this batch of polls is off and that Clinton leads by more in those battleground states. She might but not if she leads nationally by 4.0%. Remember that the way you get the national number is by adding up all the state votes.