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Electoral College: Clinton slips a bit more, and first look at Clinton vs Walker

Today I added results from PPP’s latest polling of North Carolina to my database.  They polled 11 different candidate combinations, but only one of these resulted in a significant change to one of the five best polled candidate combinations. So lets hit that quickly:

Clinton vs Huckabee

chart-18

Yup, that newest poll may or may not prove to be an outlier, but that looks like a real trend, with Huckabee gaining a lot of ground vs Clinton over the last year, and now Huckabee takes the lead, just barely. This changes Huckabee’s expected result vs Clinton:

chart-19

Huckabee’s “expected” result where he wins all of the states he is ahead in is now to lose to Clinton by 332 to 206…  losing by 126 electoral votes…  which is exactly the same as Romney’s loss to Obama. Right now, looking at the five best polled candidate combinations, Bush and Paul both do better than this, with Bush losing by 98 electoral votes and Paul losing by 108. Christie on the other hand does worse, losing by 156. But what about the 5th candidate combination?  This brings up the other big news of the day, namely, the debut of Clinton vs Walker in my “Top 5”.

Clinton vs Walker

The new batch of polling added today causes a big improvement for Clinton vs Walker in my metric to measure polling quality.  There is plenty to quibble with on how I construct this metric, namely that it might be overly sensitive to the situation in states that are VERY close in the poll averages, and I second guess it myself all the time, but it is “good enough” for these purposes. With today’s update, Clinton vs Walker jumps past Clinton vs Cruz, Clinton vs Rubio and Clinton vs Ryan to take the #5 spot in my top five ranking.

Looking at the historical trend charts for Clinton vs Walker wouldn’t really tell us too much. At this point those don’t really show real “trends” they just show the process of slowly getting enough polling to show where Clinton vs Walker really is, rather than having the map based mostly on the average of the 1996-2012 elections.  So instead lets just look at a snapshot of NOW:

chart-20 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 16.34.42777Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 16.43.44900

So where does Walker start out? 332-206. Matching the Obama vs Romney result. Matching Huckabee. Not doing as well as Bush or Paul, but not as badly as Christie. At least in terms of the “Expected” result.

Now, even though Walker makes it on to the Top 5 best polled list, that doesn’t mean polling is super robust.  Only two states (Iowa and Wisconsin) actually have more than the five polls I usually use in my averages, and they aren’t even close states. (Hillary is ahead by over 8% in both.)  Every other state is still relying to some degree on the results in the 1996-2012 elections to provide a baseline in the absence of actual Clinton vs Walker polls.  Sixteen states have at least one Clinton vs Walker poll though, and a good number of those have several polls at this point, so we have enough to start paying attention.

On Walker’s map right now there are only four “close” states: Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Missouri. The current “shortest path” to a Walker win is for him to win those four states, plus pull Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia over from the “Strong Clinton” category, first into contention as a close state, and then over to his side.  The tipping point is Virginia, where Clinton’s lead is currently 6.6%.

6.6% seems like a pretty big lead. But the events of a long campaign can and do erase leads like that. Remember the crucial point that this far out polls are NOT predictive of the final result, instead, they essentially just show how much work the losing candidate needs to do (or how much the leading candidate needs to screw up) in order to flip the result. Another way of looking at a 6.6% lead is that 3.3% of people need to change their minds. Or the undecided need to break strongly in favor of the challenger.  (My model just looks at the margin between the polling of the two candidates, and doesn’t take into account the size of the undecided pool at all.) In that context, 3.3% doesn’t seem quite as formidable.

Clinton has a strong lead here. Catching up and winning will take some hard work or good luck for Walker. But it is certainly possible. 577 days is a long time.

Note: This post is an update based on the data on my 2016 Electoral College Analysis Site. All of the charts and graphs seen here are from that site. Graphs, charts and raw data can be found there for the race nationally and in each state for every candidate combination that has been polled at the state level. In addition, comparisons of the best polled candidate combinations both nationally and each in each state are available. All charts above are clickable to go to the current version of the detail page the chart is from, which may contain more up to date information than the snapshots on this page, which were current as of the time of this post.

@ElecCollPolls tweets from 2015-04-10 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2015-04-10 (UTC)