In the 1990s, the Mike Caro Brain Trust was founded, promising the most reliable odds about what’s going to happen in current events and politics. Long suspended, the brain trust is being revived, although Caro now bases assessments on his own analysis, with limited dependence on members.
The following odds on the 2016 United States presidential election focus on popular vote. It is possible that a candidate will win the most votes, but lose the election, which is based on the state-by-state electoral college.
Odds only weigh Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. They will no longer be announced daily if either candidate is out of the race. And they exclude the chance of someone else winning. This is a purely one-on-one evaluation of candidates’ chances of winning the popular vote.
Previously unpublished odds since the Indiana primary in mid-June have Clinton at a high of 62.9% and Trump at a high of 67.5%. The first day that odds were publicly announced (July 16, 2016) marked a new high for Trump. Odds will be updated each day. — MC
↑ = up (from previously announced chance); ↓ = down; ↔ = same
Most recent odds appear at the top of the tracking list below…
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 : Clinton 53.1% ↑
(Up 7.3% from yesterday)
1.13-to-1 against Trump
(12:43 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: THE ODDS ABOVE ARE THE FINAL ONES THAT WILL BE POSTED. Thank you for following my day-by-day updates and commentary on what turned out to be an extremely volatile race to the presidency
I’ll remind you once more: These are the odds regarding which of the two candidates (Clinton or Trump) will win the most popular vote. Other stipulations have been specified above. These odds do not — not, not, not — assess the chance of either candidate winning the election by the state-by-state electoral college. In that latter regard, Clinton has an even larger advantage.
Trump’s momentum has been stopped. That is a result of the Comey’s announcement that the FBI found no new evidence against her and the dominant media’s tendency to overplay the positive meaning of that unexpected happening.
Clinton’s massive ad buy on election-day eve, a two minute, largely upbeat, closing argument is expected to reach 20 million viewers. Trump didn’t respond in kind, though his previous two-minute ad still runs, mostly in select regions.
Most of the latest polls have been more favorable to Clinton, and most of those include some days prior to FBI Clinton-rescue announcement. Two notable exceptions that still show Trump ahead are the Los Angeles Times/USC and the IDP/TIPP — both tracking polls.
The vote on election day will probably still favor Trump. But the massive early voting is likely to be too much to overcome.
The massively one-sided slant in the mainstream media shows it working as a unified, high-powered propaganda machine that will swing many last-day votes Clinton’s way. Oddly, most Democrat analysts now openly acknowledge this bias, having denied for decades that it existed. However, the force of the pro-Clinton reporting is so overwhelming that it is now generally accepted as fact by both sides (but not by all less-informed voters).
Strong evidence surfaced suggesting collusion between some in the news media and the Democrat National Committee (DNC), including proposed questions to be asked of Trump in a CNN interview. Evidence was uncovered that links an assistant attorney at the Department of Justice to the Clinton campaign.
The incredibly superior Clinton ground game, especially escorting voters favorable to her to the polling stations, could be telling in today’s voting. Trump can’t match it.
Stocks were heavily higher on the over-the-weekend news that the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails has found no new evidence against her worthy of prosecution. The stock market had been sinking on the notion that a legal cloud hung over Clinton and that a Trump presidency would bring uncertainty. Now that Clinton’s election seems more certain to many investors, buyers emerged.
Oddly, the bombshell finding yesterday that Clinton probably gave classified information to her maid for printing and faxing hasn’t been spotlighted in the mainstream media. Neither has the revelation that there was likely Clinton Foundation funding of daughter Chelsea’s wedding. If you’re still surprised by this absence of news coverage, you haven’t been paying attention.
Trump will only win if his victory without the latest FBI announcement would have been large. There’s a significant possibility that he’ll still win, though by a smaller margin than he would have. But now it’s more likely that he’ll fall a bit short.
So, Clinton +7.3 percentage points. And that’s final — Clinton 53.1 percent to capture the popular vote; Trump 46.9 percent. Trump’s chances of winning the race via the electoral college are now much worse than his chances of winning the popular vote. And the popular vote is the only thing that these odds ever measured.
Monday, November 7, 2016 : Trump 54.2% ↓
(Down 10.8% from yesterday)
1.18-to-1 against Clinton
(12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: A lot happened yesterday. But the main reason for the dramatic drop in Trump’s chances in these odds is simple: FBI director Comey has once again reversed course. He has stated that a thorough investigation of the emails found on Anthony Weiner’s computer did not change his July position that she shouldn’t be prosecuted for her mishandling of communications (some classified) on her private server.
While Comey did not address the ongoing probe into Clinton Foundation corruption, he did hand an enormous last-minute gift to the Democrats. It is actually bigger than the gift he gave Clinton in July by recommending against prosecution. That’s because a week ago, he notified congress that the FBI investigation into Clinton’s email wasn’t closed, due to new evidence. That increased the already significant momentum in Trump’s direction. But by trying to erase that with only one full day to go before final voting, he gave the media the ammunition it needed to misstate what he said and imply that Clinton somehow had been exonerated. And the press did exactly that by presenting the story as a great Clinton positive on a day when other events would have made her victory in the popular vote or the electoral college extremely unlikely. In fact, until Comey’s surprise announcement, you could have concluded that Clinton was toast.
The big event that would have sunk Clinton was the revelation that she likely gave classified documents to her maid to print out and/or fax. Ouch! But that stunning revelation, possibly the final nail in her campaign coffin, was immediately overshadowed by Comey’s announcement.
Other terrible news for Clinton included findings that daughter Chelsea’s wedding may have been funded with money from the Clinton Foundation. That also got buried as the media chose to focus on Comey unexpectedly coming to Clinton’s rescue.
These happenings put the election in great doubt. Another hard-to-measure factor is a call to action by ISIS for terrorists to attack voters at the polls Tuesday. And much more happened. Clinton is campaigning vigorously, but her efforts are far short of Trump’s 14 campaign rallies in the final three days, going state to state.
It’s an almost 11 percentage point drop for Trump, who is still a slight favorite to win the popular vote, but I’m guessing less than a favorite to win the state-by-state electoral college vote and become president.
Final odds will appear before most polls open Tuesday.
Sunday, November 6, 2016 : Trump 65.0% ↑
(Up 1.4% from yesterday)
1.86-to-1 against Clinton
(2:57 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: Rain shortened Clinton’s only rally yesterday, where she delivered a brief seven-minute speech. She also appeared at a Philadelphia concert on her behalf, featuring Katy Perry. Trump made four campaign stops across the country.
Wikileaks, Trump crudeness, and all manner of investigations and charges are failing to register greatly. Presumably, everything in the past worthy of consideration has already been, to a large extent, factored in by the voters.
There’s still a chance of a last-gasp attempt to land a big blow by either campaign, but it hasn’t happened yet and time is short. Trump purchased an impressive amount of TV advertising, featuring a two-minute message. Clinton is putting a one-minute ad into wide circulation. Both seem reasonably effective — and Clinton has announced her own two-minute ad for Monday.
Although it still looks as if Trump is the favorite to win the popular vote, his campaign should be concerned by the amount of early voting that preceded his surge in support. His gain today is 1.4 percentage points. Only two more notices of these odds will appear: (1) Tomorrow morning, and (2) Tuesday morning before most polling places are open for voting.
Saturday, November 5, 2016 : Trump 63.6% ↑
(Up 4.4% from yesterday)
1.75-to-1 against Clinton
(3:54 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: Clinton had one of her best-attended rallies yesterday, but it was promoted more as a concert, with Beyonce and Jay Z. By the time it got to the featured-speaker part (Clinton), some in the crowd were already leaving. Still, the objective to rally her voting base, especially among African Americans, was probably met. It was a success, despite the performers sometimes acting in ways unfitting of a presidential candidate’s rally.
Meanwhile Trump continued to do what he does — draw similarly sized crowds in two appearances with just himself as the star. Clearly, the enthusiasm for his candidacy hasn’t evaporated in the late stages.
Commentators and analysts continued to sift through latest Wikileaks revelations. And more details about the FBI Clinton probe emerged. But none of it will matter much in the last days. Mostly, today’s upward adjustment in Trump’s popular vote chances hinged on another day going by with Trump ahead. It’s now Clinton who needs to catch up. I know, I hear you: Most analysts are saying it’s a close race with Trump needing to catch up. But the voting won’t be as close as the polls suggest. Some voters too embarrassed to identify as voting for Trump, in light of the way the Republican candidate has been painted in the press, will vote for him in secret. This isn’t wild speculation. This has been shown again and again in elections where similar stigma is attached to stating support for one candidate. True, not all polls are face to face or tallied voice to voice, so the factor I just described isn’t as powerful as some might believe.
The bombshell charges or revelations expected against Trump haven’t happened yet and might not appear. So, Trump up 4.4 percentage points. That’s a long way from certain that Trump will win the popular vote, though, and his chances of winning through the electoral college that decides the presidency are less.
Friday, November 4, 2016 : Trump 59.2% ↑
(Up 0.2% from yesterday)
1.45-to-1 against Clinton
(3:38 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: It looks as if Trump’s gains have stalled, at least for a day. There may even be a slight closing in Clinton’s favor. This is important, because Trump has clearly gained in the popular vote race that these odds measure. If another day had gone by without stopping the Trump stampede, that would have eaten away 20 percent or so of the remaining clock and widened the odds significantly in his favor. As it is, Trump gains a tiny 0.2 percentage points.
Major events yesterday included the emergence of Melania Trump, the candidate’s wife, giving a speech on his behalf; the assertion by Assange of Wikileaks that the stolen anti-Clinton documents damaging to her did not come from the Russian government, as her campaign and some in the news media have been suggesting; the broadening rift between the Department of Justice and the FBI over handling of Clinton investigations; confirmation that government emails have been found on Anthony Weiner’s computer; the astonishing-to-some realization that Ted Cruz is now actively campaigning for Trump; substantial evidence that foreign agencies breached Clinton’s private server containing government secrets; and President Obama’s increasingly alarmist speeches on Clinton’s behalf.
There was much more that happened, of course. Put everything together and there is great uncertainty about the outcome of the election on Tuesday. Trump remains a marginal favorite to win the national vote (measured by these odds), while the electoral vote that decides who will be president still favors Clinton, according to most analysts.
This would be the natural day for fireworks from either side to appear before the weekend, especially earlier in the day. In the absence of that, the race might end with an unexpected whimper, rather than a world war.
Thursday, November 3, 2016 : Trump 59.0% ↑
(Up 2.6% from yesterday)
1.44-to-1 against Clinton
(3:15 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: (NOTE: These notes were written about seven hours after the odds above were posted and “analysis pending” appeared. That’s why the latest revelations about the extent of the FBI investigation into possible criminal activity at the Clinton Foundation isn’t a primary item of focus. That will only influence tomorrow’s odds. As such, I’ll keep these notes shorter and less specific than they otherwise would have been.)
The enthusiasm for Trump relative to Clinton continues to expand. There’s now a very high probability that the Trump vote is being underestimated by polls, even as they show him gaining or taking the lead nationally and in many states critical to electoral college victory.
As Trump continues to “stay on message” and declines to respond to Clinton’s baiting him about his derogatory speech and actions regarding women, she arguably appears desperate to some, while he seems to be acting as the favorite. That’s just the opposite of what we would expect if both campaigns thought Clinton were in the lead.
Clinton has brought out the heavy artillery, with President Obama energetically campaigning for her. His wife, Michelle, is also a significant Clinton asset. Joe Biden, less so.
Wikileaks continues to reveal so many negative Clinton communications that I’m getting lost about which is important and what connects to other factors. That means my analysis is now impure, despite increasing hours it takes each day to analyze. Seemingly, nobody is able to to keep up with these revelations. I’m doing the best I can.
The big bombshell revelations were held off for another day — if, in fact, these actually exist in each candidate’s arsenal. I think these are still coming, particularly anti-Trump salvos from the Clinton team, but I now have slight doubts. Did Clinton already use her big weapons — mostly women testifying against Trump and video evidence of his crudeness — prematurely? Is it possible that nothing huge remains? Who knows?
Trump’s 2.6 percentage point gain is mostly due to the fact that yesterday went by without major damage to him. And each day that he survives makes his popular-vote victory more likely. Any big surprises will probably happen before the weekend, when voters pay a bit less attention than during weekdays.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 : Trump 56.4% ↑
(Up 1.5% from yesterday)
1.29-to-1 against Clinton
(12:58 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: Events continue to pile up in Trump’s favor. It’s fairly clear that if the election were held today, Trump would win the popular vote. It’s much less clear whether he would be elected president via the electoral college state-by-state vote, however. Clinton may even be the favorite in that important regard. However, these odds don’t assess that outcome.
An obscure mention of the 2001 Bill Clinton scandal in which his controversial friend Marc Rich was pardoned by the outgoing president surprisingly appeared on an FBI related Internet site. That is sure to renew Democrat complaints that forces inside the agency are favoring Trump (or are at least anti-Hillary Clinton). Most likely the hard-to-find revelation wasn’t related to the campaign, but — in any case — it’s more bad luck for the Clinton team.
That’s just a small factor in a growing and hard to itemize list of Clinton negatives and potential scandals. Of course, you can expect that there will be real or manufactured scandals thrown Trump’s way, too, as both campaigns empty their arsenals in the final days.
Clinton was introduced at a rally by former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, who is testifying that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” after she won her title, then almost immediately gained significant weight while under contract to represent the pageant. Trump denies that he said it. Machado’s introduction of Clinton was poorly delivered, as she stared down at notes that were apparently written for her. Since the beauty queen is a controversial public figure for other reasons that have made news, it’s surprising that Clinton has chosen this tactic. But it might serve her well in energizing her base voters who are, in a small measure, less inspired to vote for anyone in light of recent events. Clinton may need all the votes she can get.
On the other hand, Clinton may be attacking where Trump is most vulnerable, and if she can find something new and credible along these lines to connect with, she could still stop her opponent’s momentum in time to win.
Late money pouring into PACS from wealthy Republicans is also threatening to alter the final week’s landscape. Much of this money had been voluntarily sidelined by those who thought Trump was either unappealing or had little chance to win.
Democrats are still using much energy trying to link Trump to Russian entities, but so far that tactic hasn’t worked. It still could.
Polls show momentum swinging greatly toward Trump. However, Clinton maintains a significant 44.6 percent chance of winning the popular vote. So, the suspense lives for another day. And now, or tomorrow, or the day after, the real fireworks show starts. Enjoy it, if you can.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016 : Trump 54.9% ↑
(Up 1.7% from yesterday)
1.22-to-1 against Clinton
(1:10 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)
Quick comments: If you were to hear Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture for the first time, you’d have an idea what the last week of the 2016 United States presidential campaign will probably be like. Anthems symbolically cresting and fading until one overpowers the other. I’m expecting blow after blow and two or more explosive disclosures coming from Clinton and Trump as they attempt to destroy each other. Revelations may come from other sources, as well. Some may be real and significant, some invented, some exaggerated. Big cannon fire. It will be fun to witness — or maybe not.
Any outgoing barrage could severely harm the other campaign. Same for incoming barrages, in reverse. It’s almost a certainty that this will happen. Neither side seems poised to lose quietly.
At the moment, we have Trump in the lead, but that could change by tomorrow. Easily.
It’s getting a bit crazy with some Democrats trying to link Trump to the Russian government, some Republicans wanting to have Clinton arrested now, and most of the news media focusing on Comey having committed an unethical or even criminal act by saying the Clinton investigation is on again. Then there was a major Democrat turning against Clinton, a Chicago Tribune columnist and many Democrats saying that Clinton should be replaced on the ticket a week from election day, people discovering how much their health insurance costs have risen under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and much more. Meanwhile, Trump is no doubt sleeping lightly, waiting to see what will be launched against him. It’s a perfect political storm.