Sunday, November 6, 2016

The likelihood of major unrest because of Nevada

Yesterday, I posed a nightmare scenario of unrest on November 9.  Clinton pulls out a bare majority in the electoral college by winning Nevada, even though the polls have Trump leading there.  His current lead is 2 points in the RCP average.  If Nevada guru Jon Ralston is right, though, Trump is already toast there.  I'm skeptical, but let's go with that scenario.

If that all plays out, we get a perfect storm for rigged election claims.  The electoral college majority hinges on a state in which the polls and the vote tally diverge, which would signal to Trump supporters that something shifty is going on, which is exactly what he has been saying since the summer.

However, whether or not that plays out hinges on... Florida!  No, we can't get away from that damned state.  Here's the current RCP map, with no toss-ups.  That has Clinton at 297 electoral votes, with Florida colored blue because of Clinton's narrow lead in the polls there.  Take Florida's 29 electoral votes and give them to Trump and Trump hits the magic number of 270.  Say hello to President Trump.  Unless we switch Nevada from red to blue.  RCP's map has Nevada colored red because of Trump's 2 point lead in their average.  If Ralston is right and RCP's average is misleading, then even if Trump pulls out a Florida victory, Trump still loses.

So, let's check the betting markets on Florida.  PredictIt currently gives Trump around a 35% chance of winning Florida.  Nate Silver, who I keep saying is full of shit, gives Trump just over a 50% chance of winning Florida.  Silver still projects a Clinton victory from her holding onto NH, and I have no clue what happens in New Hampshire, but my basic point here is that, if we believe Ralston, we need to crunch some basic numbers.

Suppose Ralston is right.  Suppose NH is a total coin toss.  Suppose PredictIt is right on Florida (Clinton leads in the polls and Silver is, as I keep saying, full of shit), and suppose that Florida and NH are independent contests (wrong, but fuck it-- if NH really is a coin toss, we can treat it as independent, and I'm just trying to make a simple point).  Ignoring everything else and doing some very back-of-the-envelope calculations, the shitstorm scenario occurs if Trump wins NH and Florida, which occurs with probability .5*.35=.175.  So, right now, call it a 17.5% chance of a total shitstorm on November 9.  Using very rough math.  And that's assuming no terrorist attacks or other new messes.  Of course, if Silver is right about Florida (and Ralston is right, and NH is a coin toss), .5*.5=.25, and we've got around a 25% chance of all hell breaking loose.

I'm not trying to give you an exact probability of blood in the streets.  Just a ballpark estimate.  You can play around with the numbers yourselves, and maybe build in some degree of interdependence in the probabilities.

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