Nate Silver Election Challenge: September Update

When I first called out Nate Silver, I noted that I don’t think it’s really that hard to predict the winner of each state in a Presidential election. One of my biggest rationales for this was that most states can be largely predicted simply by the way they’ve voted in past elections. This left us with eleven “battleground states”: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin

But this is a strange election and a lot has changed since June. So, after taking a look at the polls, I’ve decided to make some changes to the list. First, I’m removing Virginia as Clinton has consistently led by 5-10 points and polls are not showing any significant movement towards Trump. And I’m adding Arizona, which is currently extremely close. Arizona has not gone Democratic since 1996 when the state voted for Bill Clinton over Bob Dole (prior to that, the last time was 1958).

So that leaves us with the following modified list of eleven battleground states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

There are a few others which are close to making the list, including Virginia, Georgia, and Maine. I don’t expect any major changes with these, but we’ll keep an eye on them just in case.

September Update
For this month’s update, I’ve modified the colors of each state to indicate my level of certainty. As expected, most of the states are either dark red or dark blue. The lighter shades have at least some level of uncertainty and include the battleground states plus the three on the “watch list” noted above.

I’ve only made two changes this month, moving Iowa and Ohio to Trump, but this had a significant impact on the electoral vote estimate, taking Clinton from 346 to 322 and Trump from 192 to 216.

At the time of this update, Mr. Silver and I differ on three states—Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida—all of which he has for Trump. And he has Clinton at 285.5 electoral votes and Trump at 252.3 (I’m still not sure how it’s possible to get a fraction of an electoral vote…)

My current projections are as follows:

Clinton– California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

Trump– Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

You can interact with my election map on Tableau Public:!/vizhome/Election2016_7/Election2016

You can view Silver’s “Polls Plus” projections on FiveThirtyEight:

Check back at the end of October for my next update.

Ken Flerlage, September 29, 2016

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