Warning: watching polls may be hazardous to your health

trump-frownLast Sunday, when the Cubs were down 3-1  to Cleveland, celebrated prognosticator Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight  proclaimed that the Cubs had a smaller chance of winning the World Series than Trump did winning the presidency.  More recently,  he’s been soberly  covering his bases, indicating why more reassuring predictions of a definite Clinton victory could be wrong.

The polls, based on a variety of methodologies, have been misleading much of the year and now they’re even more suspect than usual. Take a look at poll aggregator sites like Real Clear Politics or New York Times’ The Upshot.  There are still more undecided and soft third party voters to be reckoned at this late stage. And a disproportionate shift in either direction could be significant.   The current sports analogy is “Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 38-yard field goal.”  Fans of Stephen Gostkowski, does that make you comfortable?

I felt better to read Jim Messina’s op ed Thursday pointing out savvy  campaigns don’t waste time worrying about public polls. The Obama 2012 chairman explained they use sophisticated state polling and “little data” to identify and target  voters, information that Clinton now is building on.  This, say inside sources, dictates more optimism; her internals are looking better.

News came yesterday from highly reputable Jon Ralston that Hispanic early voting was so huge in Nevada it could carry the entire Democratic ballot deep down ticket to victory. If Hillary wins in battleground states, her secret weapon could also be white Republican- leaning women who don’t align with their husbands in the privacy of the voting booth.

Still, early black voting in battleground states is lower than in the past and is expected to be down without Obama on the ballot. Florida, North Carolina and Nevada are still well within the margin of error. Friends who have been going door to door in New Hampshire warn that that state is still in play, and Kelly Ayotte’s reelection could mean the difference in control of the Senate. (I’m told she wins unless Clinton’s win is by close to five percent.)

It’s not encouraging to discover that the last two days of Clinton campaigning will be in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but the absence of early voting there could explain the decision. Nevertheless, her alleged firewall now seems less impregnable, perhaps due to the trade issue. Economic data used by political scientists are said to favor a Republican.   And we still have a couple of days for Julian Assange, foreign hackers and terrorists to wreak havoc.

In the end, the success of the reputedly far superior Clinton GOTV ground game could make the difference between a small electoral college and popular vote victory for either or a substantial win for Hillary. And FBI Director Comey’s letter late today clearing anew Hillary Clinton should help her.  It’s vitally important that Clinton win by as large a margin as possible.

Donald Trump isn’t a Manchurian candidate  as some last minute attacks would suggest. A story that a Trump server was connected to a Russian bank was declared wrong by snopes.com.   He’s a home-grown American demagogue, in the ignoble tradition of Charles Lindbergh, Father Coughlin, the 19 century Know-Nothings and 20th centure John Birchers. But what’s scarier than any of them, is that it’s not impossible that in several days Donald Trump could be our President-elect.

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