Thursday, September 22, 2016


The polls, for whatever they are worth to the discussion of the
state of the presidential election, are beginning to signal that
Republican nominee Donald Trump is pulling ahead of his
Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

As I have suggested consistently, the polls are not very accurate
this cycle, and will remain so until just before the election.
That observation holds no matter who is ahead in the polls,
but might be especially so if what  I and others contend is true,
that is, that most polls underestimate Mr. Trump’s likely (new)
voters (LNVs).

One of the most confirming signs of Mr. Trump’s remarkable
rise in the polls over the past 3-4 weeks is the commentary of
Nate Silver, the respected liberal pollster who so accurately
forecast the 2012 presidential election. He is, of course,
hedging his bets with seven weeks to go (during which time
every pundit and pollster would concede is long enough for any
momentum to be reversed), but he is warning that the race is
not tightening in Mrs. Clinton’s favor (as some in the media
have very recently alleged.

Much expectation now turns to the imminent first debate.
I think it is fair to say that most Democrats and even many
Republican do not anticipate that Mr. Trump will do well in
this debate against Mrs. Clinton (who has many more years of
public policy experience than her opponent). Lower expectations
might help Mr. Trump a bit, but if he blunders, it could turn the
momentum back to his opponent.

On the other hand, an unexpected poor performance by Mrs.
Clinton might be a very serious blow to her prospects.

History cautions us about debates, however. Gerald Ford’s
“Eastern Europe” blunder in 1976 did not halt his comeback
momentum (which did fall short), and Mitt Romney’s clear
triumph in his first debate with President Obama in 2012 gave
him a short-term rise in the polls, but did not take him to

Most of the old model indicators, in fact, seem suspended this
political cycle. We are passing through one of the most
unorthodox national elections in modern history.

Time is beginning to run out, and in the closing days of a
national campaign, it seems to go more and more quickly.
History has a momentum of its own.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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