|LINK: 2016 general election forecast.|
How do you predict a general election with Donald Trump?
We can think of a few basic approaches. One of them is to assert that precedent doesn’t apply to this election and that Trump’s case is sui generis. It’s not clear where that leads you, however.
If Trump is “unpredictable,” a phrase we heard used to describe him so often during the primaries, does that mean his chances of defeating Hillary Clinton are 50/50? If that’s what you think, you have the opportunity to make a highly profitable wager. Betting markets put Trump’s chances at only 20 percent to 25 percent instead.
In fact, despite (or perhaps because of) the unusual nature of his candidacy, the conventional wisdom holds that Trump is a fairly substantial underdog. In contrast to 2012, when there were frequent arguments over how solid President Obama’s lead in the polls was, there hasn’t been much of a conflict between “data journalists” and “traditional journalists” on this question of Trump’s chances. Nor has there been one between professionals who cover the campaign and the public; most experts expect Trump to lose, but so do most voters.
But should this seeming consensus give us more confidence — or make us nervous that we’re underestimating Trump again?
Giving Trump a 20 percent or 25 percent chance of becoming president means that Clinton has a 75 percent to 80 percent chance. That might seem generous given that, under ordinary circumstances, the background conditions of this election (no incumbent running and a mediocre economy) would seem to suggest a tossup. Are Clinton’s high odds justified on the basis of the polls? Or do they require making heroic assumptions about Trump, the same ones that got everyone, emphatically including yours truly, in trouble during the primaries?
The short answer is that 20 percent or 25 percent is a pretty reasonable estimate of Trump’s chances based on the polls and other empirical evidence. In fact, that’s quite close to where FiveThirtyEight’s statistical models, which are launching today, have the race. Our polls-only model has Trump with a 19 percent chance of beating Clinton as of early Wednesday afternoon. (The forecasts will continually update as new polls are added.) Our polls-plus model, which considers economic conditions along with the polls, is more optimistic about Trump, giving him a 26 percent chance.Read the rest of Nate Silvers analysis HERE.
If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.