Sabato hedging his big bet on Clinton, admits Trump may be one state away
Nearly every political pundit dismisses Trump's chance of winning. in part it is bias, but most genuinely do believe that Trump will lose. For the most part, it's the conventional factors we look at to determine who will win that is driving their confidence. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball incorporates such factors, only one of which is polling, to determine who will win. Betting sites do the same thing, relying on polls only as a portion of their calculation.
But on Thursday, Sabato and company admitted that their normal model is possibly not as reliable in this election. The normal assumptions they make, he points out, are not necessarily holding up. One political scientist notes that the assumption that parties will nominate mainstream candidates who will unify the party are not holding up. Also, the assumption that both candidates will run effective campaigns is not necessarily going to bare out.
Throughout the article, while still holding to the prediction of a Clinton win, Sabato gives numerous reasons why he might be wrong and Trump may win.
Trump could turn this into a change election. He would do this by acting like a normal candidate and taking attention from himself. Clinton controversies could take the focus from Trump as well. Much of this is already happening now, and it's easy to see it continuing, with Wikileaks promising their biggest releases still to come.
Sabato points out that while the polls in battleground states and nationally are close, Clinton still holds a slight lead. But, he also points out that the polls could be wrong if this electorate is not more diverse than the last one. Sabato's Crystal Ball is assuming that "that the 2016 electorate will be at least as diverse as 2012." But Trump driving white voter turnout and Clinton failing to inspire young diverse voters could easily change that, a possibility he acknowledges would throw off his projection.
Another factor that could throw off the Crystal Ball could be that Clinton's advertising and ground game advantages won't impact younger voters as much as others. I think this is a certainty, considering that younger voters are sophisticated about advertising avoidance on TV and other media, and they aren't likely to care if someone tells them they should vote. It seems more likely that they are tuning all of this out considering the high negatives of both candidates. Hillary is nothing like Obama on this front.
Sabato also notes that unlike recent elections, this electorate may be leaning more Republican than Democrat, although his current model does not assume that. He still assumes a significant Democratic advantage, but acknowledges that this could be wrong based on polling finding greater Republican enthusiasm and potential turnout.
Last, he acknowledges that he is taking a risk by not using his toss-up rating, a measure that would cut into his Hillary projection by rating some very close states as toss ups. He writes, "we are trying to hold off on that this year, in what could be a mistaken stroke of courage."
My analysis sees the "outer ring" of Democratic defenses as already breached. This includes Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and the two congressional district electoral votes in Maine and Nebraska. That leaves Trump only needing New Hampshire, not Pennsylvania, to win the election. It seems Sabato is acknowledging that this could easily happen as is apparent by the multitude of caveats he offered in his latest projection.
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