If this year’s presidential election were held today, Donald Trump would have a 56.7 percent chance of becoming the next commander-in-chief, according to the “now-cast” predictions at Five Thirty Eight, Nate Silver’s data journalism site. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning an election held today are just 43.3 percent.
But don’t panic just yet, says the gay statistician. Some of Trump’s recent rise in national polls comes from what pundits call the “convention bump,” a spike in public support immediately after a candidate accepts the party’s nomination at the high-profile convention. And, of course, the general election is not being held today, but nearly four months from now, on November 8.
Five Thirty Eight’s “now-cast,” which tracks real-time election polling data and attempts to predict the outcome if the election were held now, “can overreact to small swings in the polls,” Silver writes. In reality, the convention bump Trump is currently experiencing is relatively average and builds on the fact that the billionaire businessman was already closing in on Clinton’s lead in the weeks before the convention.
A more accurate estimate of how November will actually go is the site’s “polls plus forecast,” which adjusts for the typical convention bounce levels, Silver explains. That prediction essentially reverses the likelihood of success for the two candidates, putting Clinton with a nearly 58 percent chance of becoming the country’s first Madame President, compared with Trump’s 42 percent chance of making the White House “great” again.
“But even the polls-plus model is making what might best be described as an educated guess,” notes Silver.” Historically, nationwide polling in the weeks after both party’s conventions have concluded is much more indicative of who will win the presidency, he adds.
“So if the race is still tied two or three weeks from now — or Trump is ahead — then it will really be time for Democrats to panic and for Trump fans to rejoice,” Silver concludes. “For now, we can say that Clinton isn’t just going to glide to victory. Trump has a real chance at becoming president, and although Clinton is still favored, she’s already had a bumpy ride.
But Five Thirty Eight’s now-cast builds on an impending sense of dread that filmmaker Michael Moore tapped into on Thursday’s episode of Real Time With Bill Maher and again in a blog post ominously titled “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win.”
The avowedly liberal filmmaker makes it clear he finds no joy in making this prediction. “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full time sociopath is going to be our next president,” writes Moore. “Never in my life have I wanted to be proven wrong more than I do right now.”
But too many Americans, Moore says, “are living in a bubble that comes with an adjoining echo chamber where you and your friends are convinced the American people are not going to elect an idiot for president.” It’s time to burst that bubble, he says.
While Moore is no statistician, he does crunch a few numbers to illustrate just how easily Trump could win the presidency — particularly by reaching out to frustrated blue-collar workers in states still struggling to dig themselves out of the great recession. Those states include Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Moore’s home state of Michigan.
Moore notes that in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney lost to President Obama by 64 electoral college votes — which happens to be the same number of electoral college votes allotted to those four states that Moore believes are likely to channel a “Rust Belt Brexit” sentiment this November, and support Trump. The filmmaker paints the stretch of country from Green Bay, Wis., to Pittsburgh as “the middle of England — broken, depressed, struggling smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we used to call the middle class.”
“What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here,” Moore warns, speaking of the unexpected result of the United Kingdom’s June referendum, where a majority of English voters chose to leave the European Union, much to the chagrin of younger constituents, people of color, and those in urban areas who broadly supported remaining in the E.U.
“All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he’s expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states,” Moore writes. “He doesn’t need Florida. He doesn’t need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.”
Moore also notes that the voting booth is one of the few areas in American society where there are zero cameras, and essentially no rules. “Because of that, and the anger that so many have toward a broken political system, millions are going to vote for Trump not because they agree with him, not because they like his bigotry or ego, but just because they can,” Moore writes. “Just because it will upset the apple cart and make mommy and daddy mad.”
But perhaps the most ominous portion of Moore’s dystopian prediction comes when he offers readers a peek into the mind of “the Endangered White Male,” who is downright terrified that the ruling power straight white men have had for the past 240 years is being ripped from their hands. While Moore’s rhetoric here leans toward the hyperbolic, it’s not far outside the dog-whistle scare tactics that Trump’s campaign has effectively used to vanquish all Republican challengers in the primary. In the mind of this “endangered” species, Moore speculates, the idea of being “dominated” by a woman, after eight years of having to serve under the thumb of a black man, is simply too much to tolerate.
“After that it’ll be eight years of gays in the White House!” Moore writes in the voice of the “Angry White Man.” “Then the transgenders! You can see where this is going. By then animals will have been granted human rights and a fuckin’ hamster is going to be running the country. This has to stop!”
Although Moore has been an outspoken supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid, he announces that he will break a promise he made after Clinton voted for the Iraq War and actually cast his ballot for the former secretary of State in November. Despite the current outrage over alleged bias by Democratic delegates in favor of Clinton and against Sanders, Moore insists that it’s not defeated Sanders supporters who Clinton needs to worry about.
“The kids don’t like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn’t tell me they aren’t voting for her,” Moore writes of Clinton. “No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn’t there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing — who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls — Trump right now is in the catbird seat.”
Despite the doomsday headlines coming from Silver and Moore, both men suggest that their predictions are not foregone conclusions. Moore promised that he will post his “thoughts on Trump’s Achille’s heel and how I think he can be beat,” this week, while Silver pointed out that Clinton is likely to see a “convention bump” of her own, though the size and duration of that bump obviously remains to be seen.