Ready panic button, says Nate Silver

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

Fivethirtyeight.com right now puts Der Fuhrer Donald Trump’s chances of winning the White House at 40.0 percent to Billary’s 60.0 percent.

I’ll start panicking when Trump’s chances are in the 40s, I told myself when they were in the 30s.

Indeed, fivethirtyeight.com founder Nate Silver today posted a piece titled “Democrats Should Panic … If the Polls Still Look Like This in a Week.”

He begins his piece (links are Silver’s):

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls has been declining for several weeks, and now we’re at the point where it’s not much of a lead at all. National polls show Clinton only 1 or 2 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump, on average. And the state polling situation isn’t really any better for her. [Yesterday] alone, polls were released showing Clinton behind in Ohio, Iowa and Colorado — and with narrow, 3-point leads in Michigan and Virginia, two states once thought to be relatively safe for her.

It’s also become clearer that Clinton’s “bad weekend” — which included describing half of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” [last] Friday, and a health scare (followed by news that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia) on Sunday — has affected the polls. Prior to the weekend, Clinton’s decline had appeared to be leveling off, with the race settling into a Clinton lead of 3 or 4 percentage points. But over the past seven days, Clinton’s win probability has declined from 70 percent to 60 percent in our polls-only forecast and by a similar amount, from 68 percent to 59 percent, in our polls-plus forecast.

That’s not to imply the events of the weekend were necessarily catastrophic for Clinton: In the grand scheme of things, they might not matter all that much (although polling from YouGov suggests that Clinton’s health is in fact a concern to voters). …

Silver concludes his piece:

… So it’s plausible that Clinton’s “bad weekend” could be one of those events that has a relatively short-lived impact on the campaign.

As if to put to the question to the test, Trump upended the news cycle [today] by relitigating the conspiracy theory that [President Barack] Obama wasn’t born in the United States. (Trump finally acknowledged that Obama was born here, but only after falsely accusing Clinton of having started the “birther” rumors.)

If voters were reacting to the halo of negative coverage surrounding Clinton rather than to the substance of reporting about Clinton’s health or her “deplorables” comments, she could regain ground as Trump endures a few tough news cycles of his own. Over the course of the general election so far, whichever candidate has been the dominant subject in the news has tended to lose ground in the polls, according to an analysis by Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley.

All of this is tricky, though, because we still don’t have a great sense for where the long-term equilibrium of the race is, or even whether there’s an equilibrium at all — and we probably never will because of the unusual nature of Trump’s candidacy. Perhaps Trump isn’t that different from a “generic Republican” after all. Or perhaps (more plausibly in my view) he is very poor candidate who costs the Republicans substantially, but that Clinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect.

Still, I’d advise waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her “bad weekend” to other subjects.

Indeed, it was a bad move by Team Trump to remind us today that yes, Barack Obama indeed is a U.S. citizen — and by so doing remind us that not long ago enough he infamously very publicly had questioned that fact, which no sane individual has doubted.

I don’t see Billary’s “basket of deplorables” remark hurting her in the long term. One, it’s just a fucking fact — indeed, far more than half of Der Fuhrer Trump’s goose-stepping supporters belong in that handbasket that’s headed for hell — and two, it’s not like anyone in that handbasket to hell ever was going to vote for Billary anyway.

No, it was the pneumonia diagnosis (last Friday) and the delayed announcement of it (on Sunday), methinks, that hurt Billary more. Indeed, apparently Billary’s surrogates (and they are Legion) tripped over each other to lie that she’d simply “overheated” in New York City on Sunday, when the high temperature there was only around 85 degrees that day — only then to have the truth of the matter (the pneumonia diagnosis of two days earlier) come out only hours later.

But luckily for Billary, this is the United States of Amnesia, and, again, The Donald just reminded us today that he once strongly had asserted over a long period of time that Barack Obama wasn’t born on U.S. soil.

So yeah, right now we’re seeing, I suspect — I hope — the delayed-in-the-polls reaction to Pneumoniagate, but this, too, shall pass, methinks, and then we’ll be back to where we were pre-Pneumoniagate, which is a highly polarized electorate that’s not going to be swayed very much by very much. (Indeed, El Trumpo very apparently feels quite confident that reminding the nation of his “birtherism” won’t cause him any political damage, and among his brain-damaged supporters, it won’t.)

But I’m still going to take Nate Silver’s advice; if Trump remains at or above a 40-percent chance of winning the White House between now and Election Day, I’m going to wear out the panic button.

Again: This “man” must never be president.

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