The Donald Trump RNC Bounce — Or Lack Thereof

Donald Trump RNC BounceYou may have noticed that I was very depressed last week. After the RNC, I figured that Donald Trump’s political prospects would go down. The convention was so vile and so incompetent that I figured Donald Trump would not get an RNC bounce; I figured he would get a reverse-bounce. Yet Trump got a real bounce from it.

I guess it comes down to the fact that, at base, I’m an optimist. I really do think the best about the future and about my fellow human beings. And it was upsetting to me that people could listen to Donald Trump go on for over an hour in the most demagogic way and that everyone wouldn’t just be appalled. It still amazes me that people sitting on the fence saw the RNC and decided that Donald Trump would be a good choice for president.

Hillary Clinton is not my ultimate candidate. But even if everything ever said about her is true, she will still make a better president than Donald Trump. If Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered, she is still the better choice to lead this country. Donald Trump is a joke now. If he became president, he would be the single biggest threat to the world since in the Cuba Missile Crisis.

But it turned out that Donald Trump’s RNC bounce didn’t mean much. I knew this was likely the case; it’s just that I feared that it wasn’t.

So let’s go over it. Let’s look at FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast, Who Will Win the Presidency? I’ll be dependent on for this. For the record, the internet would be about 75% less useful without It really does make the ephemeral nature of the internet bearable.

16 July 2016

This is well before the RNC and the RNC bounce. This is how I see the presidential election:

586 Presidential Prediction: 16 July 2016

23 July 2016

Clinton’s percentage went down a little over the course of week, but there was no clear indication of an RNC bounce until the Saturday after it was over. It wasn’t big, but it was disturbing:

586 Presidential Prediction: 23 July 2016

25 July 2016

It wasn’t until Monday that things really started to look bad. I hadn’t been paying attention up to this point. So I was shocked to see that suddenly (for me, anyway), Trump was basically in a tie with Clinton. And it was only going to get worse.

586 Presidential Prediction: 25 July 2016

31 July 2016

These numbers held fast throughout the DNC. In fact, they got slightly worse for Clinton. This amazed me, because I thought the DNC was actually quite good. It was at least competently produced. And it featured Meryl Streep while the best the Republicans could muster was Scott Baio. Then, on the Sunday after the DNC, we got the following horrifying prediction:

586 Presidential Prediction: 31 July 2016

And that wasn’t even the worst of it. It isn’t available on, but FiveThirdEight got to the point of having Clinton down to roughly a 48% chance of winning with Trump at roughly 52%.

1 August 2016

This was, clearly, not the state of things. A number of polls were going on. They just hadn’t been made public. On Monday morning, things had turned around. First, Clinton was back up to a 53.3% chance of winning. Then, by evening, the number had jumped to 60.3%. And as I write this on Monday night, we get this:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016


So after two weeks, we seem to have returned to exactly where we are at. It’s still terrifying that Trump has any chance of becoming president of the United States. But at least I’m not freaking out. At least not yet. We will have to see what the polls show in a month when they really mean something.

Update: 3 August 2016

I had meant to do this last night. The change is even bigger today:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016

Update: 3 August 2016 — Evening

Now it’s just getting sad:

586 Presidential Prediction: 01 August 2016 -- Evening
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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

16 thoughts on “The Donald Trump RNC Bounce — Or Lack Thereof

  1. There used to be an old saying about how in the South people would vote for a yellow dog if it ran as a Democrat.

    Apparently about 25-35% of the purported “citizens” of the United States circa 2016 are “Orange Toupe’ Republicans”; they will vote for a blatantly unhinged, narcissistic, thin-skinned, dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers, third-rate Mussolini-impersonator if it runs as a Republican.

    • I suspect your percentage is correct. What interests me is the makeup of that group. There’s working-class white who despise “liberals,” and suburbanites who believe they should be exempt from taxation.

      The suburbanites can’t be reached. But I doubt they make up the majority of the Republican base. The majority are angry workers. Their strongest social connections are through church (where the pastor spews hate/fear) and cultural signifier hobbies (hunting, fixing old cars, etc.) We CAN reach those voters. I know, I’ve done so. Probably you have, too. Not necessarily to change their politics, but to know that some liberals are decent folks.

      Maybe there’s a strategy that might work at getting through to large numbers of them at once. Damned if I know what that is. All I do know is that getting to know people and listening to them does work. It’s why churches are such an effective organizing force. With your church friends, you can talk about your hardships, and nobody’s going to say “it’s because you’re a loser. They’ll listen, and reassure you God loves you, and hold hands and pray with you (basically just a way of saying you care about somebody).

      It’s why the most liberal states aren’t the ones with the most latte-sipping hipsters (although they have those, too!) They’re the states where unions aren’t dead yet. A union serves the same social functions as a church, without the conservative politics. Where’s the most religious, most conservative part of the country? The South. Which was the least unionized (race hatred made worker solidarity far more difficult.)

      Here in Minnesota, the electoral map is predictable; Democrat in the cities, Republican in the suburbs and farm areas. But in every election there’s an odd little patch up north in a rural district that swings back and forth. Why?

      It’s mine country. And the older miners remember how important the unions were. The mines are dying, now, and younger workers buy the company line that Big Gummint done killed the mines. Still; that district’s always up for grabs, unlike the other rural districts.

      We have to get to know them so they can know us, and know we aren’t evil. It’s so hard to do these days. But it’s the only thing I know of that works.

    • Yes: Yellow Dog Democrat. Of course, if you look at the time series of Trump-Clinton polls, you’ll see clearly the entire Republican Party lining up behind Trump. I had hoped that Trump would lose big, but that doesn’t look likely. The only hope is that Republicans will see at the end that Trump will lose and they will abandon him. If they abandon him for Johnson, we can depend upon 4 years of libertarians claiming that they really are popular, just like they’ve always thought.

  2. Maybe you should check Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium site for reassurance. He was even better than Nate Silver in predicting the 2012 election (I think he predicted the Senate seats better), and at the beginning of the year, he correctly predicted Clinton and Trump as the nominees (and Kaine as Hillary’s VP – he was the only person in the Princeton contest to get 3 out of 4 right).

    His Bayesian-based predictions give Hillary an 80% chance of winning, and haven’t moved around too much – . He even had a dig at Nate Silver when the latter had seemed to get a bit worried about Trump’s chances, as the RNC started:

    • Yes, but he was disastrously wrong in 2014. And even his numbers show the Republicans keeping the Senate. But yes: the numbers don’t look bad. Of course, no one’s numbers look bad now.

    • He’s still worth paying attention to. His simple model doubtlessly works better in presidential elections. Turnout is a killer. And he wasn’t exactly wrong; 2014 was well within his statistical range. And his model turned hard against the Democrats in the last week. You are right: Sam will generally give you a lift when you are feeling down. But if you look at his model now, you’ll see it isn’t as bullish on Clinton as the the more sophisticated models. I also recommend reading what he writes. He’s good at explaining statistics. The one great thing about his model is that I know exactly what he does: he throws in all polls and doesn’t weight them at all. The FiveThirtyEight, RCP, Huffington Post models all weight each poll based upon a lot of things. So, PPP is weighted highly because they’ve shown themselves to conduct really good polls. But unless you want to spend a lot of time, understanding what these polls mean is hard. Just the same, I go to RCP — partly because it is a conservative outfit (but honest). They currently have Clinton up by 4.5 percentage points in a 2-way race and 4.4 percentage points in a 4-way race. Sam Wang only has her up by 3.0 percentage points. But I expect that to change over the next week.

  3. On the other hand, 51% of people who watched the RNC said they were less likely to vote for Trump, compared to 36% who were more likely. That said, does that mean he got a negative bounce? There are a lot of different ways to measure a candidate’s chances.

    • Well, no. He didn’t get a negative bounce. He just got a bounce that was less than Clinton’s. It’s not clear that convention bounces last much more than a week or two anyway.

  4. I keep hearing the Warner brothers and their sister Dot singing boingy boingy boingy when I see the word “post convention bounce.”

    It will settle down but this is great news. And of course the fact that Trump fought with a Gold Star family then kicked a baby out of his rally is going to keep things from getting too low.

    • Reminds me of my favorite T-shirt I’ve seen in recent years. On top it read, “If You See A Cop” and beneath it had the WB logo. It took me ten seconds to figure it out and then I thought it was brilliant.

    • Yesterday, I was saying “Trump is fighting with the family of a fallen soldier, which is about the most sympathetic target he could pick. What’s next, fighting with a puppy?” Turns out I was close, it was a baby instead.

    • There seems to be no bottom for Trump.

      I wonder with Trump got any bounce, actually. If you look at his numbers over the last two months, it was just part of all those Republicans finally realizing that would vote for Zombie Hitler if he were running as a Republican.

        • Puppies, that voters might mind. If he called for extermination camps of Muslims or Mexicans, his poll numbers would stay steady. This was the Republican candidate that was always approaching. The Pat Buchanans, the Zell Millers, they showed us what was happening. We, or I, chose to believe it wasn’t possible.

        • It would be a mistake. In the early days of film, the term “dog villain” was coined to indicated the 3rd ranking bad guy. The alpha villain killed the sheriff, the beta his deputy, and the other guy would kick a dog. Thus, Trump would be defining himself as the non-alpha. I bring this up only because I love the term “dog villain.” You still see it in films — sometimes explicitly.

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