Statistician Nate Silver is betting that, were the 2016 presidential election held today, Republican nominee Donald Trump would likely win.
Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, a statistics and analysis website that offers opinions on politics, economics and sports.
In a tweet on July 25, Silver announced that, for the first time, Trump was in the lead in FiveThirtyEight’s “now-cast” estimate of the outcome of an election held that day.
The metric is updated daily with a breakdown of the site’s statisticians’ estimates of the likelihood of each major candidates winning each state. Trump, who previously trailed by as much as 77 percent, is now estimated to beat Hillary Clinton 56.7 percent to 43.3 percent in a hypothetical election held on July 25. These numbers will continue to shift as polling data changes.
“We don’t usually spend a lot of time writing about the now-cast," wrote Silver in an analysis piece about the changes for the site. He noted that the metric is “super aggressive, and can overreact to small swings in the polls. But it’s useful if we want to get a snapshot of what the election looks like right now.”
In CNN’s most recent polling, Trump leads Clinton by 3 points in a two-way contest, and by 5 points when third-party candidates Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party's Jill Stein are included. CBS polling shows Trump with a more modest boost to a 1 point lead overall in 11 battleground states.
Silver credits Trump’s boost mainly to the expected “convention bounce” that resulted from the GOP’s airtime during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that recently concluded.
Silver claims convention season can be one of the most unreliable times to poll because of the short-lived boosts that candidates get during their conventions. CNN estimates Trump’s convention bounce at 6 points, the most substantial boost since the post-convention bounces Al Gore and George W. Bush saw in 2000. Silver says that’s Trump recent boost may be more than 10 points overall when accounting for his gains in the weeks before the convention.
FiveThirtyEight’s “polls-plus” forecast of the expected winner of the November election still favors Clinton, 57.8 percent to 42.2 percent, when adjusted for factors like convention bumps and economy data.
“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,” Silver concludes. “Trump has a real chance of becoming president, and although Clinton is still favored, she’s already had a bumpy ride.”