Introducing ‘Economic Snapshot’ – Charts Tracking Trump’s Impact on Jobs and the Economy

As part of my evolving effort to do more to encourage others to base votes for elected officials on hard numbers and quantitative evidence rather than subjective and possibly biased perceptions and intuitions (not to mention fake-news), I’ve decided to start collecting various economic data to help readers gauge the potential impact of the Trump administration on the overall health and well-being of the U.S. economy.

This new feature is called “Economic Snapshot,” and you can find a link here and at the top of the blog and in the sidebar.

Read more “Introducing ‘Economic Snapshot’ – Charts Tracking Trump’s Impact on Jobs and the Economy”

Election Polls Underestimated Donald Trump Across Most of the Country

Well, the tallies from the 2016 Presidential Election are now finalized and the results certified. So, it’s official. Despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by approximately 2.9 million votes, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States after securing 304 votes in the Electoral College.

I don’t think this outcome was ever seriously in doubt since the election on November 8th. So, let’s move on to the other reason why it matters that all the votes have now been counted up and certified.

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A New Year and A New Mission

There’s no denying Donald Trump beat the odds and defied all expectation when he was elected 45th President of the United States.

But whether you’re looking ahead to the next four years with unbounded enthusiasm or overwhelming dread, there’s one thing we all should be able to agree on now that the presidential race is over. And that’s the need to reaffirm our commitment to intelligent, respectful, and substantive debate. And moreover, to debate grounded in logic, reason, and verifiable fact. Because in a mature democracy, there should be no room or tolerance for hateful rhetoric, rumors, conspiracy theories, and “fake news.” Yet sadly, each of these featured prominently this past election cycle.

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The Problem isn’t that Polling is Unscientific. It’s that Democracy Itself is Unscientific

In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising victory in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, there’s been a lot of discussion in the news about what might have gone wrong this year with public opinion polling, which clearly did not foresee this outcome.

Most polls showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton holding onto a slim but steady lead for most of the election cycle. During the week prior to the election, the Real Clear Politics polling average showed Clinton with roughly a 3 point lead in the national polls. Furthermore, on the morning of the election, most major forecasting sites pegged Clinton’s chances of winning at 85% or higher (My forecast and that of FiveThirtyEight were two exceptions. We each gave Trump slightly better chances, at around 25-30%).

But a Clinton victory was not to be. For whatever reason (and we will likely not have a definitive and satisfying answer to this for months), polls underestimated Trump’s support in several key regions of the country. Specifically, Clinton lost in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, despite the fact that polling averages showed her up in these states by 1.9 points, 3.4 points, and 6.5 points, respectively. Clinton does seem poised to win the popular vote, if that’s any consolation to her supporters. But she’ll become the 5th presidential candidate in history to lose the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote.

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How Did the Polls and Forecasters Get it all so Wrong?

Well, I guess I picked the wrong year to get interested in forecasting presidential elections.

As we all know by now, Republican nominee Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States, with 279 electoral votes and roughly 47% of the popular vote.

However, my statistical model, which was based on national and state-level polls, suggested Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would be the likely winner. Going into election day, I estimated she had about a 75% chance of coming out on top.

forecast_11-8-16

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Assessing Clinton’s Bounce in the Polls Following the First Presidential Debate

Last week, I wrote that it was still unclear how the first debate might affect the trajectory of the Presidential race.

Well, things became a bit clearer over the weekend and Monday after a slew of new poll results were released showing mostly good numbers for Clinton.

Clinton leads Trump in 46 out of the 71 polls released since the first Presidential debate on September 26. Meanwhile, Trump leads Clinton in only 23 of these polls (they’re tied in the remained two polls). Furthermore, according to my model, Clinton’s chances of winning in November are better today (October 4th) than they were the night of the debate. She currently has a 68% of becoming the 45th President of the United States, up from 63% on September 26.

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Will the First Debate Change the Trajectory of the Presidential Race?

This past weekend, I launched my 2016 presidential forecast. It’s a statistical model that attempts to predict who will become the next President of the United States – Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The model makes predictions based on an analysis and weighting of hundreds of state and national-level polls that are adjusted along several dimensions. For example, poll results are adjusted according to whether each poll was conducted using likely voters, registered voters, or all adults. Polls are also adjusted according to an estimate of each polling firm’s house effect, which is defined as the tendency for a specific polling firm to show bias toward one or another candidate relative to other polls in the same state. And although polling data constitutes the bulk of the model’s basis for making predictions, other information is also incorporated, such as religious and racial/ethnic demographics in each state and the prior political leaning of each state. Read more “Will the First Debate Change the Trajectory of the Presidential Race?”

The Evolution of the 21st-Century Scientist

I was recently invited to be a guest blogger over at Macroscope, the official blog for American Scientist Magazine. Below is an excerpt from my post about the evolving role of scientists in the 21st Century. You can read the full post by clicking here. Read more “The Evolution of the 21st-Century Scientist”

The Week in Politics, According to Twitter

Well, this past week was an eventful one in U.S. politics.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, delved into yet another Twitter-related controversy on Saturday after tweeting an image of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, standing near a giant pile of cash and a word bubble conspicuously shaped like the Star of David. Critics immediately pounced on the imagery and accused Trump of anti-Semitism.

The Trump campaign quickly responded by deleting the tweet and replacing it with an altered version, which featured a circle rather than a star. But then, in a surprising display of apparent self-sabotage, Trump went on to defend the use of the six-pointed star, claiming in an angry speech that his campaign staffers “shouldn’t have taken it down” and that it’s “just a star.” Unfortunately for Trump, the Anti-Defamation League and 27 other Jewish organizations disagree. Read more “The Week in Politics, According to Twitter”

Predicting the Unexpected: A Bayesian Model to Predict the Winner of Big Brother 18

Summer is here, which means it’s once again time for everyone’s favorite Julie Chen-hosted reality show, Big Brother.

Okay, maybe it’s not everyone’s favorite reality show. Maybe it’s not even anyone’s favorite reality show. But watching Big Brother every summer has become something of a tradition in my house. My wife and I have watched every season together for the last 13 years. It’s sort of a TV guilty pleasure. You know, like anything on Bravo or CNN. Read more “Predicting the Unexpected: A Bayesian Model to Predict the Winner of Big Brother 18”