Last week I cast a minor amount of shade on some of the election forecast methodology at FiveThirtyEight. I said that I appreciated the quantitative elements, but doubted the precision without a more narrative, qualitative approach to compliment what the numbers really meant.
Yeah, this was not a vicious professional critique. As one friend said, “You could still get a sunburn under that shade.”
Well, a little update: they have the qualitative scenario angle, too. DAMN THEY ARE GOOD. Check out “What a Clinton Landslide Would Look Like,” and you have election scenarios that run the table. For one thing, I learned that national polls tend to distort the state-by-state polls on election day. From there, Nate Silver explores how many different states would give their electoral college votes to Clinton if her lead gets to 4%, 6%, 8% or more of the national vote over Donald Trump.
But let’s say Clinton continues to build her lead, instead of Trump rebounding. Which dominoes might fall next?
South Carolina (+9.5): Public Policy Polling caused a big stir on Thursday when it published a poll showing Clinton down just 2 percentage points in South Carolina — but the result shouldn’t have been all that shocking. South Carolina was only a couple of points redder than Georgia in 2012 and 2008, so if Georgia has moved to being a tie, you’d expect South Carolina to follow just a half-step behind it. True, South Carolina doesn’t have a metropolis like Atlanta, but a relatively high percentage of white voters there have college degrees.
Missouri (+10.3): It’s surprising to see Missouri, once considered a bellwether state, so far down this list. Bill Clinton won it twice, and Obama came within 4,000 votes of winning it in 2008. But now we estimate that Hillary Clinton would need to win by about 10 points nationally to claim the state. Note, however, that the recent polling in Missouri has been mixed, with polls showing everything from a 10-point lead for Trump to a slight edge for Clinton.
That’s it! I am sorry I doubted! Rigor on all sides! This is the pinnacle of election forecasting and scenarios, conducted with the best of the futures studies methodologies!
This is an embarrassingly geeky thing thing to declare, but it is my niche.