Warning. Things are looking strange again. Like, 2016 Republican primary strange. Maybe. Maybe not.
I'll admit once again that I didn't think Trump had a chance at the Republican nomination when he announced his campaign. But, I also clued into reality before most, and as I said in a self-congratulatory post back in May, the reason was that I started paying attention to the polls rather than my gut or some lousy model. Back during the Republican primary season, Trump maintained his lead in the polls throughout the campaign. Initially, the betting markets, like all of us political scientists, wrote him off. Eventually, we caught up to reality, and Trump won, while we wiped the egg off our faces. The people who figured it out sooner were those who payed attention to the polls sooner.
Right now, take a look at the Florida and Ohio polls. Now, notice that PredictWise still has Clinton at a 70% chance to win.
Yes, Trump has a narrow lead in the two most critical swing states, and Clinton is favored to lead in the betting markets.
I'm getting that old, familiar feeling again.
Now, as I wrote yesterday, it is too early to tell whether Trump is just experiencing a blip in the polls or whether this is a real shift. Blips happen, and this is very different from Trump having a consistent lead in the Republican primaries. Don't accuse me of equating this with Trump's consistent primary lead, 'cuz I'm not. But, let's all remember that the way prognosticators went wrong in the primary season was by ignoring the polls in favor of the "there's no way that fuckin' guy can win" line of reasoning. See where that got you? Watch the polls. Trump can win. Clinton has had a bad, bad week, and Trump has exercised more self-control than we ever thought possible. What's really going on? It is too soon to tell. Maybe nothing, but watch the polls, and don't assume that Trump can't win because he's Trump. I've made that mistake before, and so has my discipline.