September 25, 2016


Where The Race Stands Heading Into The First Debate (Nate Silver, 9/25/16, 538)

1. Who's ahead in the polls right now?

Hillary Clinton, but tenuously. There were some semantic debates on Twitter this morning after ABC News and the Washington Post released their new national poll that showed Clinton 2 points ahead of Donald Trump. Did the Post convey the right impression in describing the race as a "virtual dead heat" in its headline?

I might have chosen slightly different vocabulary: "Clinton has razor-thin advantage," or something like that. But it's basically correct, at least based on the FiveThirtyEight forecast, to characterize the election as both close and competitive. The ABC News/Post poll is typical of recent national polls, which have Clinton up by about 2 points on average. (That average includes some high-quality polls that have Clinton ahead by as many as 6 points, but also a handful of others that show Trump with a lead.) Meanwhile, in the Electoral College, Clinton is leading in the states she needs to win, but only in those states, and not by all that much. Trump is one string of good polls in Pennsylvania or Colorado or New Hampshire away from erasing that advantage.

To put it another way, a narrow Trump win would not count as a major polling foul-up if the election were held today: It would be within a reasonable range of disagreement among pollsters. A clear Trump win -- or for that matter, a Clinton landslide -- would be more of a problem for the polls.

With that said, Clinton is a pretty good bet at even-money. As of Sunday morning, she's a 58 percent favorite according to both our polls-only and polls-plus models.

...where everyone just needed to be reassured that Reagan wasn't gaga.  Hillary needs to show up and not pass out.  Of course, Reagan only had the one debate and it was the week before the election...

Posted by at September 25, 2016 7:21 PM