The Electoral College Vote Three Days Before The Election

Who will win the electoral vote on Tuesday, November 8th?

It is not what you say, but how you say it. For several days now, I've been told by some how totally wrong I am in my various analyses of the electoral map. Half the naysayers say "But but FiveThirtyEight says this, so you are wrong" and the other half say "No, no, Sam Wang at Princeton says that, so you are wrong!" But all along, we've all three been saying something very similar. The difference in how we say it is, Sam Wang says something like "I'll eat my shorts if Clinton doesn't win" and I say "I think Clinton will win, but Trump has a small chance." But really, we have very similar estimates as to what the situation is. And, that is:

1) Hillary Clinton is more likely to win this election than is Donald Trump.

2) Regardless of the initial probability distribution one might have been imagining, this has changed over time so that the chance of a Trump win has been increasing a bit.

3) A number of states are in play, and broadly speaking, the list of states can not be robustly assigned to either candidate is similar.

I myself have been avoiding making specific probability statements because I think that the necessary assumptions to talk about behavior of the electorate out at the margins are unknown or unreliable.

As you know I developed a model that I used during the primaries, that I'm applying to the electoral college vote, with modifications. In short, the model, as used here, reflects whatever polling data are used to seed it, but modifies the outcome to reflect general patterns of behavior. This, I suspect, removes strange results that the polls sometimes give. But it may also miss strange thing the electorate sometimes does. Which is happening in a particular case, for a particular state? Nobody knows. If we knew that, we wouldn't need to do the actual voting.

So, here, I'm giving you two separate sets of results, initially. First, as in my previous post, a distillation of what the polls themselves are actually saying, using this approach.

First from the polls only:


As noted in the figure, the polls give Secretary Clinton enough electoral votes to win, barely, with Nevada being exactly split between the two candidates. We'll look at swing states more closely below, but for now, this is my suggestion for the best guess based on the polls. So, if Clinton takes Nevada, she'll win by 8 electoral votes.

As I had noted earlier, my model should converge on the polls by this point in time, but since there are so many states within a percentage point either way of the 50%-50% line, my model and the polls tend to differ a bit. Overall, my model is more favorable to Clinton because it give her Florida and Nevada.

At this time, this is my best prediction of what I think will happen on Tuesday, unless there are secret unmeasurable forces having to do with unspoken voting behavior or get out the vote efforts.


This result, my model, is very similar to Sam Wang's result.

One scary possibility is that Trump is gaining ground on Clinton. Looking at just the polls, there was a gaining of ground going on for a while, but it seemed to stop a few days ago. FiveThirtyEight agrees with that. But, what if all the polls end up being one percent off from what they say now, by the time Tuesday comes around? Can Trump then win?

The following moves all the states over by one point, from my modeled results (which I regard as more reliable than the polls) which, oddly, puts Pennsylvania right in the middle. Trump could win. Or Clinton could win.


It has been said that the Democrats may have a ground game, a GOTV plan, that is much superior to that of the Republicans. A good estimate of how that would change things is to add 2.5% to the Democrat's votes, effectively for the swing states. In this case, Clinton is shown here to do about as well as anyone expected her to do. Don't expect this, it will never happen, but this is more or less the maximum limit on where Clinton can go. Notice that Trump still takes Texas and Georgia, but may be a bit weak in Georgia.


Finally, by way of summary, here is a map that shows which states are either recognized by one analysis or another as a tossup, or that move back and forth across analyses or over short times scales or, as in the case of Georgia and Colorado, don't change their color under those conditions but remain very close in percent distribution to those that do. (Note, for Maine, we are only talking about one electoral vote moving back and forth.) Regardless of which column these states actually end up in, they are states you want to watch to measure the strength of each candidate. Obviously, the eastern time zone states will be the most helpful in this regard early in the evening.


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By See Noevo (not verified) on 05 Nov 2016 #permalink

Thanks! I needed a good laugh...

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 05 Nov 2016 #permalink

Let's step back in time to the Neanderthal past to gather some insight into the etiology of some curious current behaviors.

The Right Wing Authoritarian Father Worshiping Mind Set (RWAFWMS) allows, maybe even demands that right wingers overlook the flaws ( See No Evil) in their candidate because they are essentially deifying their candidate. The RWAFWMS can be very useful in stressed settings. Some groups of simians have had to depend heavily on the uncontested leadership of the number one ape. Their group does not benefit from constant contention, they cannot afford the time and energy needed to select the perfect ape leader. One thug leader is pretty much as good as the rest when it comes to rallying support and resources to build a defensive wall around the compound, so let's not waste time looking for the perfect Mister Universe. The ability of a nest of Neanderthals to consolidate around and worship their small handed divinity was probably an important trait for the survival of the species at some point. Hence the resonance between dimple minded ( as opposed to pimple minded ) right wingers and the Rump monster. It is the re-enactment of a scene from the simian past. Does the small handed divinity have to adhere to the rules established for the rest of the tribe? Of course not! He is a god! He doesn't have to treat other decently, act civil, obey the law, follow convention,respect others. He is our god and he hates the "other" tribes. All is Right.

Of course, the priesthood that coordinates the “worship” of the divine leader may have a larger “hand” in the workings of the tribe than flock realizes. But the dissection of that role is a story for another day.

maybe even demands that right wingers overlook the flaws ( See No Evil) in their candidate

That's a presumption. Perhaps the right-wingers actually prefer the flaws (and let's face it, evidence suggests this is the case) because they embrace the "evil" as a life philosophy.

After all, what is "evil" to left-wingers may be "goodness" to right-wingers, because what is "goodness" to right-wingers is certainly "evil" to left-wingers.

It all depends on which "religion" one follows in life. One's politics is a perfect reflection of that. And vice-versa.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 06 Nov 2016 #permalink

Re: "See No Evil" - sn, I assume you mean.

I would suggest he is an outlier even to the extreme right.

He has stated that women should be restricted to having children and nothing more, and shouldn't talk about anything other than that and keeping house. He has stated that people who aren't his color and his religion should not have the same rights as others in terms of jobs, freedom to worship, movements, etc., and while I recognize the current republican nominee agrees with that, I know a good number of his supporters locally (some very vocal supporters) who don't, which indicates that the subset of trump supporters nationwide who disagree than that is large enough to be meaningful.
He's spoken poorly of religious leaders in general (all religions except his brand of Catholicism are "false" anyway) and stated that the current pope is terrible and doesn't understand Christianity. Again - a religious stance far from that of the right wing.
His level of dislike of science is on par with theirs (his famous "Nobody should spend any time or money on research in anything unless there is an immediate application" being the most direct comment on it he could make). He also believes the use of birth control is a direct assault on him and "harms him daily", so he does have that ignorance in common with the right as well.
I'm not sure how he squares that with his claimed that he solved the Halting Problem, but ...

So sn is something of an odd duck: vile racist, misogynist, religious bigot - lots of things driving the Republican party now, but he does lean to preferring dictators over duly elected governments.

He would be perfectly happy running a torture chamber for the church during the Inquisition, or commanding a unit in the SS tasked with "cleansing" rural Russia during Operation Barbarossa (those commies are really bad, right?) in WWII.

His opinions are a super-set of those the leaders of the right now embrace. I am afraid, if they win, they will expand their levels of hatred and insanity to include his.

Dear friends, if the people of the Netherlands and the former Dutch Caribbean would have a say in who is becoming next wordleader, a vast majority of Dutch of all walks of life and descent would all vote for Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Trump is proven part of a very rightwing group, Altright, Breitbart, (discriminators, racists). Choose for a free and better life, and happiness. End suppression. Please vote for the better candidate. Make use of your voting rights. Go and vote. We light a candle for this. Laren NH, Monday 7th. November 2016, 11.21 AM Dutch time.

By Mr G.J.A.M. Bogaers (not verified) on 06 Nov 2016 #permalink

How does one account for votes already cast? And, for trends that break from past in that early voting?

In terms of polling, there seems (that 2.5% toward Clinton) to be an under polling of Hispanic Americans yet there seems to be significant increases in their voting compared to past. Some states have seen, if I understand correctly, more Hispanic early voters than the total number of Hispanic votes in past elections.

The already-cast votes are 'in the bank' and should 'count' more in a polling environment than prospective votes (what % say Saturday that they will vote Tuesday but end up not doing so ...?). Thus, how to account for this?

@ A Siegel #7,

This is the kind of question that is answered by "internal polling"-- meaning, polling that is paid for by the campaigns rather than given away for free.

What the media reports is mostly not detailed and usually sensationalized beyond the significance of the data.

My husband heard that there is a Democratic elector in Washington who has announced his intention to be faithless and vote for Trump because he feels Clinton has not done enough for Native Americans. (He may not be literate enough to have read about what Trump has said about Native Americans.) If Clinton won 270 to 268, which is a real possibility, that one man would personally give the nation to Trump. I am not confident that even a single Democrat would have both the ability and the backbone to do whatever was necessary to prevent him from casting his vote. NBC is not even mentioning this, so I don't know whether it is a false internet rumor or whether they are trying to hush this up while party leaders try to make him see reason. Does anyone know?

The Seattle Times reports that there are two of them, although the other one is not as firm in his position. His name suggests that his family immigrated from Europe, so he seems equally misguided about Trump.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 07 Nov 2016 #permalink