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2016: Is It Already Over?

ASSESSING THE INEVITABILITY MYTH …

To hear the pollsters and pundits tell it, the 2016 election is over.  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is going to defeat GOP nominee Donald Trump in a popular and electoral landslide – and that’s that.

It’s a done deal, they say.   You can “take it to the bank,” “stick a fork in it,” “cue the fat lady” or use any other turn of phrase you wish.

How inevitable is a Clinton victory?  According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com,  Clinton currently has an 85.8 percent likelihood of winning the White House on November 8.  Trump, on the other hand, has a 14.2 percent chance of victory.

Take a look …

(Click to view)

538

(Via FiveThirtyEight.com)

Meanwhile The New York Times‘ latest election forecast is even worse for Trump –  giving him only a 7 percent chance at prevailing in next month’s voting.

Here’s that graph …

(Click to view)

nyt upshot

(Via The New York Times)

Finally The Huffington Post is currently calculating Clinton’s likelihood of victory at 95.7 percent – with Trump having just a 4.1 percent chance of winning.

Take a look …

(Click to view)

HuffPo

(Via Huffington Post)

Why should any of us bother to vote, right?

Curiously, all of these assessments were made on the same day that Reuters/ Ipsos – which has previously modified its polling in a manner that has produced less favorable outcomes for Trump – released data showing the GOP nominee cutting Clinton’s national lead in half over the last week

According to the latest Reuters/ Ipsos numbers, Trump trails Clinton by just four percentage points nationally – despite being subjected to wall-to-wall demonization by the mainstream media.

According to the latest aggregate data from RealClearPolitics, Trump trails Clinton by similar margins in four must-win swing states – down 6.5 percent in Pennsylvania, down four percent in Nevada, down four percent in Florida and  down 2.5 percent in North Carolina.

Can Trump flip the scrip in all four of these states?  Or … has the script already been flipped in his favor?  And the mainstream media polling simply isn’t reflecting this reality?

“It’s unlikely we’ll see an unprecedented polling failure,” the senior polling editor for The Huffington Post predicted.

We’ve written previously about the big “Brexit” bust – in which polls taken the day of the vote missed the outcome by eight points.  In fact one of those eight-point whiffs came courtesy of Reuters/ Ipsos.

Will Trump benefit from the same sort of “Brexit bounce?”  It’s possible.

One factor that could play to his favor is the so-called “social desirability bias,” in which respondents to live polls provide answers based not on their actual desires – but on their eagerness to conform to the prevailing “groupthink.”

In politics, this has been dubbed “The Bradley Effect,” after former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley.  A Democrat running for office at the nadir of the “Reagan Revolution,” Bradley held a commanding lead over his GOP rival George Deukmejian heading into California’s November 1982 gubernatorial election.   In fact exit polls revealed Bradley to be the runaway winner of the race, and the San Francisco Chronicle ran an embarrassing headline proclaiming him as the likely victor.

When all the votes were counted, though, Deukmejian edged Bradley by less than two-tenths of a percentage point.

The “Bradley Effect” has been attributed in prior elections to racial prejudice (Bradley was black, Deukmejian was white), but from a polling standpoint it refers generically to voters who act in a manner inconsistent with their stated intentions – whatever the rationale.

Could we be seeing such a bias at work in this election?

“Trump does about six points better in automated polls than he does in polls conducted by live operators,” a South Carolina GOP consultant told MRF.  ” There will be hundreds of thousands of people across the country who end up voting for him  despite telling survey operators they were with Hillary.”

Motivated voters also matter.  Back in January, pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group noted the existence of a double-digit intensity advantage among white Republicans when compared to white Democrats.

“I’ve never seen a double-digit advantage in terms of intensity to vote,” Goeas told Free Republic.

Add this to flawed polling models and you can see the faint outlines of a historic upset beginning to take shape.

On the flip side, Clinton is unlikely to receive anywhere near the same black turnout that Barack Obama benefited from during his two victorious elections – and she is also struggling mightily to connect with millennial voters.  Moreover, her campaign’s broadsides against populist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (and a steady stream of Wikileaks revelations exposing her true position on a variety of issues) have caused serious problems for her with her liberal base.

Will all of this be enough to carry Trump to an unlikely win on November 8?

As the GOP nominee said during the third and final debate, he is indeed keeping us all “in suspense” – whether the polls reflect that suspense or not.

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