Live Blog: Election Day 2016

Election DayWell, the time has come. And I figured that I should live blog election day — the whole day. Because I’m going to be obsessing about it anyway. It won’t be like the debate live blogs. I’ll just post things as I find them.

But before I get to that, I want to tell you how I’m thinking the day is going to go. And it isn’t as wonderful as I would hope. Not that I think it is going to be catastrophic.

Presidential Race

The good news this election day is that I think that Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States. And I think she will win by a clear margin. Her polling average went way down at Real Clear Politics. On 2 November, she was ahead by only 1.3 percentage points. Yesterday afternoon, she was back up to 2.9 percentage points. In a four-way race, she’s up by 3.2 percentage points.

And in the electoral college, Trump’s pathway to victory is ridiculously narrow. If he loses Florida or North Carolina, he loses the election. And yesterday afternoon, FiveThirtyEight had Clinton with narrow margins in both of those states. Really: the only way that Trump becomes president is if he wins every state that is close. It could happen, but I find it really hard to worry about it.

Senate Races

Where I don’t feel good this election day is in the Senate races. This should be a great year for the Democrats. The Republicans are defending 24 seats and the Democrats only 10. And assuming that Clinton does win, the Democrats only have to pick up four seats. That doesn’t sound like much. The Democrats are certain to pick up two seats: Wisconsin and Illinois. There are 5 close races where they could pick up seats: North Carolina, Missouri, New Hampshire, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. But they are only leading in the polls in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and it isn’t by much. Meanwhile, the Republicans are leading comfortably in North Carolina and Indiana — at least according to FiveThirtyEight.

The problem with this is that all these elections are not independent. It isn’t like a random walk. The truth is that the close races will probably all go one way. And that could be great! Theoretically, the Democrats could get 53 seats. But I think two of those are too far gone. So the best we are looking at is 51 seats. If I wanted to be really generous: 52. But it means if things go really wrong, the Democrats could end up with just 48 seats. If the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, they will force a constitutional crisis on the country. Really, they already have by refusing to allow Obama to seat a replacement for Scalia.

Good News

Most of this gloomy analysis comes from FiveThirtyEight. But I do have my doubts about it. When I look at the data they are using, it doesn’t make sense. Taking into account the time when the polls were taken, biases that FiveThirtyEight has calculated, and the grades of the pollsters, I just don’t see where they get some of their numbers.

For example, in Pennsylvania, they give Katie McGinty a 61 percent chance of winning. Since mid-Oct, there have been 19 polls. McGinty has been winning in 16 of them. The median is 2 percent. I think that’s a solid lead. But in North Carolina, they give Richard Burr a 71 percent change of winning, when his median is just 1 percent.

I know that there is more to the FiveThirtyEight model than polls. But these strike me as odd. Meanwhile, Sam Wang gives McGinty a 3 percent advantage, and Burr a 0.5 percent advantage. So it isn’t that I’m crazy. I’m clearly looking at the election the way that Wang is and not the way that Nate Silver and company are.

But I worry, because FiveThirtyEight is really good. They were far more accurate in 2014 (and earlier) than Wang was. If this were all I had to go on, I’d be despairing. But I’m not.

Voter Turnout

We do know that Hillary has a cutting edge get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation. And Trump has almost nothing. I don’t know if this is showing up in the polls or not. I do know that political science tells us that a good GOTV operation can improve a candidates vote total by between 1 and 5 percentage points. So it is still possible that Clinton is going to win really big and drag not just the Senate but the House with her. But I am more a “prepare for the worst” rather than a “hope for the best” kind of guy.

It should be an interesting election day! I’ll see you throughout it.

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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.

13 thoughts on “Live Blog: Election Day 2016

  1. This thing I’d never heard of, RT News, will be streaming coverage with Larry King, Ed Schultz, and — wait for it — Jesse Ventura. Sounds like an entertaining disaster. They also promise additional coverage from their regular contributors. I don’t recognize most of the names on their programming. Two I hope show up are Thom Hartmann, who could lecture on the 1964 election while advocating the health benefits of liquid beets, and Chris Hedges, who could deliver scathing rebukes of corporate media in between bouts of ripping off a hairshirt to self-administer floggings.

    • RT does a lot of good stuff. I wouldn’t necessarily trust its coverage on Russia. And it gets into conspiracy theories. But it does a surprising amount that’s good. Now whether you can tell which is which is another matter.

  2. 10:22 AM, PST Presidential Odds
    HIllary -600, Donald +400

    Electoral College Votes:
    Donald ECV Line 233.5, OVER -110, UNDER -120
    Hillary ECV Line 305, OVER -115, UNDER -115

  3. I just did the math on the electoral college.

    If Trump pulls off wins in FL, OH, NC and VI – he could wind up with a 273 – 265 overall win.

    Though no one seems to be acknowledging this possibility just yet it seems?

    Anyone agree? Man this is a bummer so far…

  4. I have articles scheduled for tomorrow. After that, I don’t know. I need to stop following politics. There is no rationality. It looks pretty clear that Clinton will even lose Pennsylvania, a state she was leading in all the polls. I’m used to not thinking much of humans. But it’s clear from the last two elections that polls are pretty much worthless.

    Writing about politics is easy. But it might be better to write about literature and films and music. There are still political issues I care about. But it’s all random. In the end, this election has turn out exactly as my model predicted. This was just a generic Democrat versus a generic Republican. It didn’t matter that Trump is one of the worst people in the world.

    And now I think Comey may have been the person that gave the presidency to Trump. How proud that cowardly bureaucrat must be!

    • I am so sorry Frank. I feel terrible, horrible today as well. So do half of the voters in this country. Frank, no
      matter what I am not going to become cynical. This election does not change my core values. I am in fact
      probably too old to be bullied into changing into something I am not.

      Furthermore, I am not ashamed to state that I try to be both a loving and compassionate person who makes
      an effort to care about all human beings – regardless of how they look; the language and culture
      they happen to have – in the hope that such a spirit can be reciprocated.

      I will not give up on love – Frank. No one can force me to give that up. Even cynical politicians and
      cynical authority figures. In the face of adversity – in times of confusion all about – that is the true measure of character and happiness and success in life.

      So much for Rush Limbaugh’s definition of “character”.

      Take care and take heart. Life is forever changing.

      (Now how is that for a boldly positive message?)

      • Hear, hear! Well put. I agree. And I don’t believe most of the people who voted for Trump voted for what he stood for — because no one knows what he stood for. It was a vote of anger. It was a vote that said, “Things are going in the wrong direction.” And I pretty much agree with that, even if I disagree about what the right direction would be. No, this is not the time to give up. This is the time to fight for what is right.

        As America’s greatest patriot said, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

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