Poll Analysis: Clinton Still Beats McCain

Clinton McCain
99.9% probability of winning 0.1% probability of winning
Mean of 313 electoral votes Mean of 225 electoral votes

Electoral College Map

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Electoral College Map

Washington Oregon Idaho Montana Wyoming North Dakota South Dakota Minnesota Wisconsin Iowa Illinios Indiana Colorado Utah New Mexico Texas Nebraska Oklahoma Kansas Nevada California Arizona Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Alabama Tennessee Georgia Kentucky Ohio Michigan Pennsylvania West Virginia Virginia Hawaii Alaska North Carolina South Carolina Florida New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland District of Columbia

From yesterday’s analysis, Sen. Hillary Clinton had a 99.9% probability of defeating Sen. John McCain in a general election. There were three new polls today that contribute to this match-up. Not much has changed.

After 10,000 simulated elections, Clinton wins 9,994 times (plus the House would give her the one tie), and McCain wins 5 times. Clinton still has a 99.9% probability of winning and McCain has a 0.1% probability of winning a general election held today.

The long term trends in this race can be seen from a series of elections simulated every 7 days using polls from 23 Sep 2007 to 23 May 2008, and including polls from the preceding 1 month (FAQ).

For the current time period, this is the distribution of electoral votes [FAQ]:

  • 10000 simulations: Clinton wins 99.9%, McCain wins 0.1%.
  • Average ( SE) EC votes for Clinton: 313.2 ( 13.4)
  • Average (SE) EC votes for McCain: 224.8 ( 13.4)
  • Median (95% CI) EC votes for Clinton: 314 (286, 338)
  • Median (95% CI) EC votes for McCain: 224 (200, 252)
State EC Votes # polls Total Votes % Clinton % McCain Clinton %wins McCain %wins
Alabama 9 1* 811 39.6 60.4 0.0 100.0
Alaska 3 2 997 40.3 59.7 0.0 100.0
Arizona 10 1 519 41.0 59.0 0.0 100.0
Arkansas 6 1 460 57.6 42.4 99.7 0.3
California 55 2 1412 57.6 42.4 100.0 0.0
Colorado 9 1 455 48.4 51.6 22.4 77.6
Connecticut 7 1* 1477 51.7 48.3 91.7 8.3
Delaware 3 1* 532 52.8 47.2 90.9 9.1
D.C. 3 0 (100) (0)
Florida 27 3 2973 54.1 45.9 100.0 0.0
Georgia 15 1 425 43.5 56.5 0.8 99.2
Hawaii 4 1* 487 52.4 47.6 86.0 14.0
Idaho 4 1* 548 29.9 70.1 0.0 100.0
Illinois 21 1* 512 56.4 43.6 99.6 0.4
Indiana 11 2 1748 49.2 50.8 20.8 79.2
Iowa 7 1 435 48.3 51.7 22.4 77.6
Kansas 6 1 460 42.4 57.6 0.2 99.8
Kentucky 8 1 564 43.6 56.4 0.3 99.7
Louisiana 9 1* 470 38.3 61.7 0.0 100.0
Maine 4 1 445 57.3 42.7 99.6 0.4
Maryland 10 1* 552 55.1 44.9 98.4 1.6
Massachusetts 12 1 455 60.4 39.6 100.0 0.0
Michigan 17 1 440 50.0 50.0 50.0 50.0
Minnesota 10 1 994 55.0 45.0 100.0 0.0
Mississippi 6 1 546 39.6 60.4 0.0 100.0
Missouri 11 2 1872 50.5 49.5 72.6 27.4
Montana 3 1* 450 40.0 60.0 0.0 100.0
Nebraska 5 1 455 37.4 62.6 0.0 100.0
Nevada 5 1 435 52.9 47.1 88.9 11.1
New Hampshire 4 3 1315 51.0 49.0 79.3 20.7
New Jersey 15 1 723 57.8 42.2 100.0 0.0
New Mexico 5 1 440 53.4 46.6 92.3 7.7
New York 31 2 1015 60.8 39.2 100.0 0.0
North Carolina 15 4 2128 47.8 52.2 3.3 96.7
North Dakota 3 1* 511 39.3 60.7 0.0 100.0
Ohio 20 3 2541 54.6 45.4 100.0 0.0
Oklahoma 7 1* 552 45.7 54.3 2.8 97.2
Oregon 7 1 430 53.5 46.5 92.8 7.3
Pennsylvania 21 5 4349 56.8 43.2 100.0 0.0
Rhode Island 4 1* 571 59.4 40.6 100.0 0.0
South Carolina 8 1* 536 46.6 53.4 6.0 94.0
South Dakota 3 1* 440 43.2 56.8 0.5 99.5
Tennessee 11 1* 450 42.2 57.8 0.1 99.9
Texas 34 2 1006 44.0 56.0 0.0 100.0
Utah 5 1 514 23.5 76.5 0.0 100.0
Vermont 3 1* 551 55.7 44.3 99.2 0.9
Virginia 13 2 1122 45.6 54.4 0.1 99.9
Washington 11 2 1065 52.4 47.6 93.2 6.8
West Virginia 5 1* 549 52.8 47.2 91.2 8.8
Wisconsin 10 1 450 47.8 52.2 16.3 83.7
Wyoming 3 1* 508 31.5 68.5 0.0 100.0

* denotes that an older poll was used

Details of the methods are given in the FAQ.

The most recent analysis in this and other match-ups can be found from this page.

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9 Responses to “Poll Analysis: Clinton Still Beats McCain”

  1. John H Says:

    This is some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen! Pick a swing state, Ohio, say. You simulate this as a guaranteed win on the basis that every voter randomly picks a candidate with 54.6% chance that it’s Clinton. Of course this gives you Clinton every time. The truth is that 54.6% is just a best guess at the moment. There is a margin of error. The correct way to do this is pick a number from the normal distribution centred on 54.6 and with the appropriate variance. That’s the odds of Clinton winning the state.

    Surely you can see that Clinton is not 99.9% certain to win the nomination. Your forecast basically adds up to just taking the poll results and assuming they’re perfect.

  2. Dan Says:

    You don’t know what you’re doing.

    For an example of someone who does, go here: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com

  3. Mike in Denmark Says:

    Wow, talk about making completely hopeless analysis look very nice. Might even call it a polished turd.

  4. Steve Says:

    Okay, really. Did you *really* think your math was good when you showed Clinton with a 100% chance of winning Florida? With a 75% chance of winning Missouri, even though she only had a 1 point advantage in the polls? Really? Did you really not notice that a completely absurd number of your predictions had probabilities of 90+? Really? Come on.

  5. Jack Says:

    I’m sorry, you can’t ever suggest or outright say that Hillary Clinton would do better than Our Lord Jesus Obama. That is wrong, incorrect, and completely false as it is an absolute fact that Obama will bring us all together, make us love one another, and cause us to end war, hunger, and suffering. Please stop spreading these terrible lies that Hillary Clinton actually does better than Obama AND changes the map for Democrats. She’s evil, horrible, terrible, and mean. She is not allowed to win. These are just the facts.

  6. the real facts Says:

    Even if a good model was used, to use current polling data to predict what will happen in November is silly.
    The notion that she or any candidate has a 99.9% chance of winning the White House is absurd.

    A lot will happen between now and the election which will change the polls (both McCain and Obama will make mistakes. Events will happen that nobody can predict). And the actual results may be different from the polls.

    And while I don’t think Clinton is evil, there are independents and Republicans who do and won’t vote for her.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that pro-Clinton blogs are picking this up without the least bit of skepticism.

  7. Darryl Says:

    Steve,

    “Okay, really. Did you *really* think your math was good when you showed Clinton with a 100% chance of winning Florida?”

    There isn’t really any “math” behind the methods, but I’ll try to address your specific comments. In Florida, there are three current polls, a Rasmussen with 500 individuals giving Clinton a 47% to 41% edge, and two Quinnipiac polls, one with 1,419 individuasl giving Clinton a 48% to 41% edge, and another with 1,411 individuals giving Clinton a 49% to 41% edge. The statistical evidence is overwhelming…when the polls are polled, a McCain win is well outside the margin of error (if the election were held today).

    “With a 75% chance of winning Missouri, even though she only had a 1 point advantage in the polls?”

    In Missouri there are two current polls, a huge SurveyUSA poll (1,523 individuals) that gives Clinton a 48% to 46% lead, and a small (500 person) Rasmussen poll that gives McCain a 45% to 43% edge. When the polls are combined, the larger SurveyUSA poll dominates the results. Clinton wins about 75% of the simulated elections.

    “Really?”

    Yep!

    “Did you really not notice that a completely absurd number of your predictions had probabilities of 90+? Really?”

    Why is that absurd? I mean, look at it this way…when pollsters say a poll gives a result that is “within the margin of error” or “statistically tied” all they mean is that the probability that one candidate wins over the other is under 95%. When a poll is “outside of the margin of error” or “statistically significant” that just means that the probability the “winning” candidate being truly is ahead of the trailing candidate is greater than 95%.

    This is all elementary statistical sampling theory. I am not sure where your disbelief arises.

  8. Darryl Says:

    the real facts,

    “Even if a good model was used, to use current polling data to predict what will happen in November is silly.”

    Indeed! That is why I am not making such a prediction. All of my posts point out that the results only apply to a general election held today. The FAQ mentions that as well. Are you reading impaired or something?

    “The notion that she or any candidate has a 99.9% chance of winning the White House is absurd.”

    But, the numbers coming out of the polls don’t support your claim of absurdity.

    A lot will happen between now and the election which will change the polls (both McCain and Obama will make mistakes. Events will happen that nobody can predict). And the actual results may be different from the polls.”

    First…the results only apply to a hypothetical general election held right now. Secondly, my analyses give a distribution of outcomes, not a single outcome. The actual results of an election held right now would likely fall within the distribution of results generated from the polling data.

    And while I don’t think Clinton is evil, there are independents and Republicans who do and won’t vote for her.”

    But…of course, the pollsters try to capture this effect. So your point is irrelevant.

    “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that pro-Clinton blogs are picking this up without the least bit of skepticism.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised either. When McCain was beating Clinton, the pro-McCain folks certainly picked it up “without the least bit of skepticism.”

  9. Darryl Says:

    John H,

    “This is some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen!”

    Hmmm…7.5 years of a NeoCon-inspired Wingnut shit-fer-brains running the country and THIS is the craziest stuff you have ever seen??????

    “Pick a swing state, Ohio, say. You simulate this as a guaranteed win on the basis that every voter randomly picks a candidate with 54.6% chance that it’s Clinton. Of course this gives you Clinton every time.”

    Ummm…I’m not sure what you are getting at here. If I flip a coin that has a 54.6% probability of heads, then I will more often get heads than tails for each flip, but not every time. However, if I have 1,000 such coins and flip ‘em all, the probability of getting more tails than heads is something like 0.04%

    The truth is that 54.6% is just a best guess at the moment.”

    The 54.6% is a summary statistic. The read data are the number of people who said they would vote for McCain and the number of people who said they would vote for Clinton or Obama in the poll.

    “There is a margin of error.”

    Indeed. The distribution of electoral votes you see in my posts quantifies that error. That is why there is a distribution over a range of electoral votes. The probability just comes from adding up the area to the left or right of the winning number (269 for the Democrat and 270 for McCain).

    “The correct way to do this is pick a number from the normal distribution centred on 54.6 and with the appropriate variance.”

    My method is using a binomial distribution to find the variance of outcomes. What you have suggested is using the Normal approximation to the binomial distribution. My method is the correct way—your’s is an approximation that 20th century statisticians used before computers were readily available.

    “Surely you can see that Clinton is not 99.9% certain to win the nomination.”

    This work (1) has nothing whatsoever to do with “the nomination.” I am simulating hypothetical general election match-ups. (2) My analyses only pertain to right now, not November. I make that clear in my posts.

    Your forecast basically adds up to just taking the poll results and assuming they’re perfect.

    Um…no. My analyses were specifically designed to avoid simple pooling of polls and specifically designed to generate a distribution of election outcomes.

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