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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Silver’s Update: Trump’s Chances About 29 Percent

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight post, “Election Update: Swing State Polls And National Polls Basically Say The Same Thing,” should give Dems reason for optimism, but not overconfidence. Here’s the scary graph:

Nonetheless, Trump’s overall position has improved slightly. He has a 22 percent chance to win the election according to the polls-only forecast, as compared with a 19 percent chance when we launched last Wednesday. And in polls-plus, which also accounts for economic conditions, his chances have improved to 29 percent from 26 percent.


Yes, that’s right, Dems. One of the top analysts of political statistics rates Donald Trump’s chances of being elected President at better than one out of four and only slightly less than one out of three on the eve of the GOP convention. It could happen.

Imagine a range of unlikely, but not-out-of-the-question scenarios, like a stock market/401K meltdown, a brutal terrorist attack, Clinton hitting the banana peel, or Trump somehow starts listening to smarter advisors etc. Or a perfect storm of all of the above, and yes, it could get worse.

But don’t bet on it. Silver is not giving due consideration to unquantifiable factors like: the Democratic ad storm that is about to cover Trump with a tsunami of well-earned shame; nor the bizarre circus that the GOP convention is getting ready to present; nor the ad campaign introducing Hillary Clinton as a person of exceptional seriousness, accomplishments and actual likeability. And then there will be the debates, which will spotlight the intellect and temperament of the two candidates. Oh, and don’t forget the impressive competence and management of the Clinton campaign in stark contrast to that of her Republican rival. Weighing all of that, a Democratic landslide is far more likely than a Trump upset.

The takeaway from the rest of Silver’s nuanced analysis offers a much more optimistic picture of Clinton vs. Trump polling, and he notes that “Clinton’s state polls tell a stronger story for her than the national polls do.” Given the realities of political polarization in America, she is doing as well as could be expected in early July.

Still, shite sometimes happens. The worst thing would be for Democrats to drift into complacency and overconfidence. That’s the danger.

Instead, Democrats must create more of a sense of urgency and excitement about this election, less based on fear of Donald Trump in charge of the world’s economy and the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile than on the opportunity to secure a working majority for progressive change. We’re not likely to see a better one for a long time.

Let’s not settle for a Clinton victory and a modest Senate majority. That’s a recipe for continued gridlock and political frustration. What is needed is an explosion of grassroots Democratic activism, including  energetic voter registration, education and turnout campaigns of unprecedented intensity. For those who want a better future for their children and a better America, that’s the challenge of the hour.

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