And, the case for Trump… again

Ezra Klein interviewed Alan Abramowitz and gave him a chance to respond to Nate Silver’s critique.  Some highlights:

[Abramowitz] I saw what Nate Silver posted on FiveThirtyEight, and what he’s saying is reasonable based on the history of these presidential nominations, but there are a couple things I think are different this year.

Silver makes the case that the polls at this point don’t necessarily mean much, and you can get big swings in voter preferences in relatively short periods of time. And that’s true. What I think is different is Republicans are tuned in to a much greater degree than they were at this point in previous nomination contests. You can see that in polling when you ask whether voters are paying attention, and you can see that in ratings for the debates. The idea that voters aren’t tuned in yet and won’t make up their minds till January or later may not prove as true as it has in the past.

Because of the higher level of interest and attention this year, these early polls may be more predictive of what’s likely to happen.

The second point is Trump isn’t only leading in national polling. He’s leading in every state poll I’ve seen. He seems to be ahead in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, Nevada…

There have been very clear signals already from the Republican establishment, from Fox News, from conservative pundits — it’s been clear they think this is really bad for the Republican Party, but it hasn’t worked so far.

There have been repeated moments when Trump said something outrageous and there were predictions that this is the beginning of the end of Trump, and then he does better. This goes all the way back to his attacks on John McCain’s war record and his sexist attacks on Megyn Kelly. These things don’t seem to hurt him. Among his supporters, they take that as a sign that this is a guy who speaks his mind, says a lot of things they agree with — and besides which, who do you trust, Donald Trump or the mainstream media that is telling you he’s lying?

Abramowitz makes a strong case not that Trump will be the nominee, but that we should definitely take the possibility seriously.  I think he’s right.  And here’s some fun food-for-thought (also via Vox):

1) If the field narrowed to just Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, Trump would crush Rubio 57-43

 Economist/YouGov

One way of downplaying Trump’s persistent dominance in the polls is to suggest his 20-30 percent is a ceiling, not a floor. Nate Silver, for instance, wrote that Trump “has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.)”

The idea here is that Trump’s lead represents a fractured field: As weaker candidates drop out and the establishment consolidates around a single anti-Trump, that candidate will pass Trump in support even if Trump holds his current numbers.

But in a head-to-head matchup among Republican voters, Trump beats Rubio 57-43. That suggests that Trump’s ceiling, at least among Republicans, is far above his current 25 to 30 percent, and he may well benefit as weaker candidates drop out.

Only in America.  Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

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