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Friday, September 30, 2016

Hillary Had a Good Week (We'll See if it Continues)

Although the polls had been tightening for a couple of weeks, the weekend when Hillary Clinton made her remarks about Trump's "basket of deplorables" and then nearly passed out at a 9/11 memorial service was the start of a series of bad news cycles for Clinton that negatively effected her poll numbers for a couple of weeks (actually, her numbers didn't move too much; Trump's improved). And by this past Monday afternoon, Trump had almost pulled even according to an average of national and state surveys.

But then Monday night's debate happened. Over the course of the debate bettors (prediction) markets climbed approximately 5 percentage points from about 68% to 74% (i.e., they went from predicting that Hillary had a 68% chance to a 74% chance of winning the election). This rise was confirmed by post-debate polls, at least those that sought to interview a random sample of respondents, which found that Hillary had won the debate, some as high as by a 2-1 margin. And most pundits from both sides of the political aisle agreed. Hillary debate-night win led to an improvement in her standing among state and national polls. An average of polls released later in the week showed that Hillary's lead has increased from approximately a 1-2 percent prior to the debate to a 3-4 percent lead afterward. Heck, even Fox News has Hillary ahead by 3 points. The Times-Picayune/Lucid poll, which was taken completely after the debate, had Clinton with a 10 point lead. That seems a bit high to me but the trend -- the day before the poll had Clinton with a 5 point lead -- is probably a reasonably accurate reflection of the movement in national sentiment, as well as in important swing states ("Election Update: Clinton’s Debate Performance Is Helping Her In Swing States").

Can her good luck continue? Possibly. There are still two more debates, and in this election season it seems that just about anything could happen. So, you never know. But at least for now, things are looking up for Hillary. Negative stories either directly or indirectly linked to Trump have been in the news lately. Trump's surrogate, New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is getting hammered by former associates in the Bridgegate trial ("Chris Christie's Numbers Have Officially Reached 'Nixon Terriorty'"). And Trump's charitable foundation is repeatedly coming under scrutiny for engaging in activities that charities are not allowed by law to do ("Trump Foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit money"). And in the last few days, a report came out that provided evidence that in 1998 one of Trump's companies secretly conducted business with Cuba, violating U.S. laws in the process. And finally, Trump has spent the last couple of days insulting, via Twitter, Alicia Machado, the 1996 Miss Universe winner, whom Trump once referred to as "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping" after she gained weight after the 1996 event, once again calling into question his temperament and judgment ("Trump's Overnight Twitter Tirade Sums Up His Weaknesses"). If stories like this continue to pour in, Hillary's road to the White House will get a lot easier.

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