Daily 2016 U.S. Presidential Odds (July)

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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.

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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Previously unpublished odds since the Indiana primary in mid-June have Clinton at a high of 62.9% and Trump at a high of 67.5%.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…

See current odds (with links to other months)

Sunday, July 31, 2016 : Trump 61.7% ↓
(Down 1.3% from yesterday)

1.61-to-1 against Clinton
(7:48 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Once again Trump shows a lack of a strong in-stream editor when speaking or being interviewed. This time it was ABC’s George Stephanopolous (formerly Senior Advisor for President Bill Clinton) who interviewed him.

At issue was a Muslim-American speaker at the Democratic National Convention whose son, a U.S. Army captain, died in Iraq. The father had used his emotional speech to support Hillary Clinton and attack Trump. He had said that Trump had never sacrificed. Trump, in the interview, countered that he had sacrificed by creating jobs, among other things. He then said the father seemed like a nice guy, which was okay, but less than called for in this circumstance. He added that the father’s wife, who stood beside him during the speech, may have been prevented from speaking as a cultural tradition.

So, when you examine Trump’s words carefully, there wasn’t anything truly newsworthy. But why doesn’t he understand that those words always will make news, nonetheless, in a negative way? Why would you answer by itemizing your own sacrifices? Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to express your sorrow for that father’s plight and leave it there. Trump isn’t running against the speaker. Why counter the argument at all? This one might linger and hurt Trump more than previous gaffs.

Why is this important? It’s because Trump hasn’t mastered the art of the obvious as far as when to say what. He is endeared by many for his forthright words. It’s often good to be unscripted and be genuine about your beliefs. But there is also a need to do some on-the-spot editing as words are about to come out of your mouth. The main reason for Trump’s downgrade today is that he doesn’t seem to be getting better at that skill.

Meanwhile, revelations that a computer related to Clinton’s campaign has been hacked (separate from the possible hacking of her own server and the more-recent hacking of Democratic National Committee emails) threatens to become another headache for her.

Also a big negative for Trump yesterday was the Koch brothers’ decision not to put money into attacks on Clinton.

Saturday, July 30, 2016 : Trump 63.0% ↓
(Down 0.3% from yesterday)

1.70-to-1 against Clinton
(5:00 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Trump may be reverting to his more aggressive style, based on yesterday’s public appearances. Yet, it’s evident that his flame-thrower personality — whether real or invented for political purposes — will not do much to sway undecided voters. It will merely entertain those who were previously won over by his sometimes reckless candor.

But that isn’t the right strategy for post-convention political combat. The majority of voters who remain most persuadable want reassurance from Trump that he really isn’t that way — that he doesn’t overreact, that he can be charming, insightful, and not rattled by criticism. That he’s chosen another demeanor — one that helped him stand out in a large field of opponents, but is ill-suited for a head-to-head contest — baffles me. It seems unnecessarily dangerous enough that these odds are down 0.3 percent for Trump.

Clinton’s appearance with the heavy hitters that will campaign on her behalf made little news, because the spotlight still glows from her historic acceptance speech as the first woman honored to do so.

It’s almost certain now that, excluding monumental events, Trump cannot rise to more than a 70 percent chance of winning the popular vote until after the first debate with Clinton. That is scheduled for September 26 — 58 days from now. Trump can gain some ground between now and then, but Clinton can gain more. The debates have, by far, the biggest potential for change.

Friday, July 29, 2016 : Trump 63.3% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.72-to-1 against Clinton
(2:59 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Frankly, I’m struggling to make sense about how today’s events — particularly the final day of the Democratic National Convention — will change the odds. In fact, although it’s likely that there will be a shift, the impact cannot be determined until the public digests what it witnessed and the press reports it more fully.

For now, I can’t see anything that moves the likelihood of Clinton or Trump winning. The build-up to Clinton’s acceptance speech was well-crafted, but for many it will paint a picture of her that they don’t completely believe. Her speech was about as expected — passionate in her advocacy and her sometimes humorous (sometimes not) attacks against Trump. But did it gain any ground for her?

The monumental nature of the first female candidate from a leading party accepting its nomination is historic. That in itself favors Clinton.

Meanwhile, Trump made several appearances (and many tweets) that kept him not far from the spotlight.

These projections are based on Clinton being about 3.5 percentage points ahead in the polls a week from now, followed by a gradual decline. If she exceeds that percentage greatly or falls far short, a major odds adjustment may be merited. It’s important to note that Trump is likely to always be slightly ahead of what polls indicate, due to a higher social pressure not to admit to being a Trump supporter. That has always factored into this analysis.

Also being monitored is a new story that hasn’t registered much. Melania Trump’s personal web page has been taken down. Several sources are reporting that, although her biography stated that she graduated from a college in Slovenia, she had actually dropped out. Time will tell if this is true or becomes an issue. Right now the effect is minimal, but that could quickly change.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 : Trump 63.3% ↓
(Down 0.2% from yesterday)

1.72-to-1 against Clinton
(1:10 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The third night of the Democratic National Convention went slightly smoother than expected for Clinton. In particular, Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was powerful and polished. However, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s speech fell far short of what probably was hoped. And President Obama’s address, while it resonated enormously with those in attendance, probably seemed hollow to many watching on TV — particularly his claims of achievements for his administration and his praise for Clinton in areas that may seem doubtful to many beyond the Democrat party.

The main reason for Trump’s slight decline is his statement at an early-in-day news conference that Russia should find and release Clinton’s 30,000-plus deleted emails. Although most non-partisan observers who watched the entire appearance probably gave Trump credit for his ease in unscripted answering of questions, Democrats immediately turned to social media to say his call for Russians to effectively spy amounted to treason. As silly as that seems and as obvious as it was to those watching that Trump was being darkly humorous (since he’d already expressed doubt that Russia was behind the recently released Wikileaks publication of Democratic National Committee emails), the spin was taken seriously by many major media sources.

That event weighs as a negative for Trump.

Other factors balanced and had little influence on today’s odds.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 : Trump 63.5% ↑
(Up 0.3% from yesterday)

1.74-to-1 against Clinton
(10:37 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Trump’s chances improved slightly. While the dynamics of the Democratic National Convention’s second day were appealing, and widely applauded by those already supporting Clinton, not much was offered for those voters undecided or leaning against her.

Sanders’ decision to move that the Clinton be declared the candidate by acclamation after losing the floor vote helped her. But his disappearance thereafter didn’t.

Many of the early speeches seemed off target. Bill Clinton’s speech, as a former president in support of his wife, benefited her, but wasn’t quite up to the standards expected. With some who are not already committed to Clinton, it might have had too many “yeah, right“ moments as he painted her as a person they don’t believe her to be.

Trump’s address to the VFW was, as expected, more warmly received than Clinton’s on the previous day. The majority of other factors favored Trump minutely, but cumulatively they had a slight effect on his upward trend.

A Clinton positive was the well-produced glass-ceiling video, with her breaking through it for a live camera appearance at the end. This played well on the convention floor and undoubtedly with the TV audience.

Trump’s news conference, about to start, will be reflected in later odds.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 : Trump 63.2% ↑
(Up 0.2% from yesterday)

1.72-to-1 against Clinton
(10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Despite some powerful speeches, the first day of the Democratic National Convention fell slightly short of expectations. Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong support for Clinton, in light of the latest email episode — suggesting that some members of the Democratic National Committee had not acted impartially and, instead had worked for Clinton — was strangely absent as a focal point in his speech.

Many Sanders’ supporters were vocal in their opposition to Clinton. There will be a roll call vote today during which more dissent is likely.

Cory Booker’s speech was eloquent, but the anticipated piling-on-against-Trump aspect overshadowed statesmanship. Michelle Obama’s speech was quite good, but fell short of previous addresses she has delivered.

Pre-prime-time testimonials against Trump University and against Trump himself seemed to fall flat. We could see the intended direction of the the anti-Trump theme. But, as an example of that, an appearance by a young undocumented immigrant, expressing her dreams for a more inclusive America, probably resonated less than hoped among those beyond the convention itself.

Along with dozens of other tracked events and remarkably good poll numbers for Trump, the day’s events were enough to increase his chances a fifth of a percent.

Monday, July 25, 2016 : Trump 63.0% ↑
(Up 0.1% from yesterday)

1.70-to-1 against Clinton
(2:20 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Not much to discuss today. Wikileaks’ exposure of Democratic National Committee staff emails favoring Clinton over Sanders continues to do damage to her, as expected.

A particularly friendly Sunday night interview with Clinton and Kaine (her VP choice) on CBS 60 Minutes helped Clinton, but probably not quite as much as projected.

Much could change depending on how forcefully Sanders supports Clinton in his speech tonight at the Democrat convention. Protests inside or outside the convention could hurt Clinton, but Sanders could greatly diminish the effect.

We’ll know more by Friday, the day after the convention. For now, a minimal boost for Trump.

Sunday, July 24, 2016 : Trump 62.9% ↑
(Up 0.3% from yesterday)

1.70-to-1 against Clinton
(6:32 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Potential odds volatility is even greater than usual during the next four or five days, as the Democratic National Convention (sometimes known as the Democrat National Convention) takes place in Philadelphia. The Democrats have a staging advantage, akin to acting last in poker, where position matters.

That means the Democrats can make late adjustments in presentation, answer and attack issues raised at the Republican convention, add pizzazz, and do many things better by using last week’s “Trump show” as a target. However, this advantage has been reflected in the odds from the beginning, so only exceptional exploitation or mishandling of “acting last” will have impact.

Clinton’s Florida roll out of vice presidential choice Tim Kaine had little bearing on the odds, following her previous announcement. However, her use of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, controversial Democratic National Committee chair, to lead off the presentation was a slight negative for that campaign. It was especially surprising in light of the growing controversy over Wikileaks’ release of emails showing that the DNC (committee, not convention) acted to advantage Clinton over party competitor Bernie Sanders. The blow-back from that has proven sufficient enough already for Schultz to have been dropped from a speaking spot at the convention (although she’ll still presumably preside and gavel it to a start). After-odds update: It has now been announced that Schultz won’t even preside over the convention, as Democrat leadership acts to diminish the damage. Any effect this late change might have will be reflected in the next odds.

Sanders is scheduled to address the convention Monday night. He holds the cards and can choose to defuse the controversy (more likely) or accelerate it by toning down or abandoning his Clinton endorsement (less likely). He could unite the party somewhat, for example, by paraphrasing his now-famous statesmanlike words from an early debate and say something like: “Enough about those damn emails.” Of course, the emails he was speaking of then (“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails”) were those kept on Clinton’s private server, many of them having been deleted.

Trump is pretty much taking the weekend off, except for activity on Twitter — which may come from him directly or from trusted staff members under his name and likely with his approval. Other factors weighed had little bearing on the odds, except to the extent that they have already been considered.

Saturday, July 23, 2016 : Trump 62.6% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.67-to-1 against Clinton
(3:01 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Once again, yesterday saw negative and positive factors for both candidates end up balancing. Therefore no change to the odds occurred.

As has been his pattern of behavior, Trump hurt himself by reviving his attacks on Ted Cruz, presumably in retaliation for the latter’s refusal to endorse after being granted a prime speaking spot at the convention on Wednesday. That was leaning to be more harmful to Cruz than to Trump, because resentment was building against the senator. Trump was seen sympathetically, by many, as a person who graciously gave Cruz a chance to speak, nonetheless.

But Trump’s attacks — which seem over-the-top to many — fumbled the ball back to Cruz, who is now might be seen as a victim of unfairness, thus squandering Trump’s advantage.

Clinton named Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her vice presidential choice. This adds volatility to her chances, even though her intention probably was to stabilize. Why? It’s because Kaine, who is arguably moderate, is likely to reignite friction from those further left than Clinton, particularly Bernie Sanders supporters, who may feel betrayed. The selection could be a positive, a negative, or a neutral. And which it turns out to be will largely be determined by events surrounding next week’s Democrat convention.

The ramification of a terrorist attack yesterday in Munich, Germany may move the odds in coming days, but for now the effect is only minimally in Trump’s favor.

Friday, July 22, 2016 : Trump 62.6% ↑
(Up 0.2% from yesterday)

1.67-to-1 against Clinton
(9:42 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Trump’s acceptance speech was somewhat too long (about an hour and 15 minutes) and too frequently in a high-volume voice. Yet, it was delivered with confidence and command. Overall, it was a slight plus for Trump compared to expectations, which were already factored in as positive. His daughter Ivanka’s introduction, humanizing him as a caring father, will help quell anxiety among undecided voters. Lead-up speeches, including from Peter Thiel — a major player in technology, who is gay — were helpful, too.

Nonetheless, Trump continues to make the mistakes of a political amateur, as highlighted by his meeting with the New York Times editorial board during the convention. His statements to them about the United States role in NATO will be troubling to many. It’s doubtful that a seasoned political strategist would have taken the risk of detracting from the convention’s messaging that way.

The Democrat’s convention next week will most likely move popular sentiment her way, but that has already been analyzed in this projection. So, only results above or below expectations will have significant bearing on these odds.

Thursday, July 21, 2016 : Trump 62.4% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.66-to-1 against Clinton
(11:18 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Yesterday was a mix of events, mostly happening during the third day of the Republican National Convention, that balanced and, therefore, had no change on the odds. The effect of Ted Cruz taking the spotlight and not endorsing Trump, coupled with his public reiteration of that position this morning, probably hurt the senator more than the nominee. But it is certainly negative for Trump.

However, the fact that Trump allowed that speech to happen, knowing there would not be a direct endorsement, most likely diminishes the damage. Other speeches in strong support of Trump — from Newt Gingrich, Eric Trump, Marco Rubio, and others — also lessens any damage Cruz caused. And the acceptance speech by vice presidential candidate Mike Pence was better than anticipated.

Outside the convention, the great, unruly protests that were expected haven’t happened. If disruption now occurs at the Democrat National Convention next week, that could help Trump’s newly minted “law and order” theme.

How well Trump’s acceptance speech tonight is received, with daughter Ivanka introducing, could have major impact on the chances of Clinton and Trump.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 : Trump 62.4% ↓
(Down 2.5% from yesterday)

1.66-to-1 against Clinton
(9:50 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Many have asked why these odds are so different from others that have been published — odds that show Clinton with up to an 80 percent chance of winning. The answer is simple: They’re wrong. Those odds are based on opinion polls and assumptions about minority votes and election-day turnout that are unlikely to be correct.

This analysis looks at likely and unlikely future events that will change the odds. At this point, the election could be close or it could be a commanding win for either side. Trump would be an even larger favorite if he weren’t more likely to make major mistakes than Clinton, who would be an easier target for many other Republican candidates.

You may be surprised that Trump’s chances fell again today. Yes, the convention is giving him the spotlight and probably lifting his popularity in polls. But that was already anticipated. The Melania Trump plagiarism issue continues to distract the Trump campaign, and his decision to minimize it, rather than forcefully state that he and Melania were appalled and would find out how it happened, was a lost opportunity. On the positive side for Trump, incorporating his family into the convention has been helpful so far.

Clinton has been fairly quiet in the news, but that’s typical of a presidential candidate during the opposition’s convention. The Democrats will have their event next week, and we’ll see whether that goes as expected.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 : Trump 64.9% ↓
(Down 3.4% from yesterday)

1.85-to-1 against Clinton
(3:22 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The spotlight moment of yesterday’s first day of the Republican National Convention should have been Trump introducing his wife Melania and her speech humanizing him. Both of these happened impressively with a spectacular entrance by Donald Trump and better-than-expected delivery by Melania. Fine so far. But now the whole segment might become a public relations disaster for the Trump campaign.

What happened was that Melania’s address, read from teleprompter, seems to have plagiarized a well-known portion of Michelle Obama’s speech in praise of her husband at the 2008 Democratic convention. You can research and compare the words on your own, but the similarities appear beyond any mathematical likelihood of coincidence. This means that, instead of getting positive reviews, the Trump team will face negative ones, as this is what will drive the discussion.

So, what do I think? Glad you asked. Melania reportedly worked long with speech writers to get the words tuned. She could have done the plagiarism herself, but that’s unlikely. Could one of the speech writers done it as sabotage? Possible. Could one of the speech writers have done it to take advantage of Michelle’s powerful words (which were also, probably, written by someone else)? There’s almost no chance of that, because a pro would know that the high-profile plagiarism would be discovered almost immediately. So, it’s a mystery. Maybe the exact words of the speech were changed at the last minute by someone trying to embarrass Donald Trump. It’s hard to believe that nobody would have searched online for the words in the speech to check for conflicts. That would have immediately landed on Michelle’s speech.

So, I don’t know what happened. But the damage is potentially great. The campaign will have to spin it away or investigate and announce the truth about what went wrong. That’s minimizing a loss, not enjoying a win. And it’s just the opposite of what the campaign was trying to achieve with its featured night-one segment.

Also factored into yesterday’s Trump decline was, oddly, the absence of unruly protests outside the convention, which actually would have helped Trump slightly. There was an early disruption in a dispute over rule changes, which was a minor negative. The fact that featured speakers appeared after the key address, when delegates were leaving, didn’t help either.

On the Hillary Clinton front, though she improved her chances due to Trump errors, she gets a minor penalty for her address to the NAACP, which — after acknowledging that recent attacks on police were unacceptable — lapsed into the social justice arena in an effort to secure votes that are already there for her. Perhaps she succeeded in making some African American voters less likely to stay home on election day, but her words will be poorly received by others.

Monday, July 18, 2016 : Trump 68.3% ↑
(Up 0.4% from yesterday)

2.15-to-1 against Clinton
(3:33 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The ambush killings of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana yesterday may sway some voters toward Trump’s “law and order” proclamation in the past week. This is coupled with a coincidental, pre-planned agenda at the Republican National convention that starts today with specific focus on public safety — something that will be on the mind of the public.

Trump’s appearance with Pence, his vice presidential choice, on CBS 60 Minutes last night also helped him marginally. More than two dozen regular factors are tracked in computing daily odds, in addition to one-time factors driven by unexpected events. None of these other factors were important enough, individually or cumulatively, to have significant effect on the odds.

Events such as police murders in Dallas last week, police shootings of African Americans, terrorism in Nice, France, and the failed military coup in Turkey have previously been evaluated. As such, they only affect today’s odds to the extent that increased or diminished voter awareness changes the impact.

Sunday, July 17, 2016 : Trump 67.9% ↓
(Down 0.1% from yesterday)

2.12-to-1 against Clinton
(10:06 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The public roll-out of Mike Pence as Trump’s vice presidential choice (previously announced on Twitter) went smoothly, with both men’s speeches slightly above expectations. But a strongly negative guest editorial by former Florida governor Jeb Bush in the Washington Post (July 15, now resonating) demonstrated that some high-profile opposition to Trump within the Republican party remains. This is happening at a time when the campaign would hope for quiet acceptance.

Note that these odds could change quickly, because mistakes by both candidates — but especially Trump — are more likely than usual. The boosts (if they happen) that Trump, followed by Clinton, will get from the conventions is already factored into this analysis. So, the odds will only be affected by those conventions if expectations fall short or are exceeded.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 : Trump 68.0% ↑
(Up 0.4% from yesterday)

2.13-to-1 against Clinton
(10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: World events — specifically the terrorist attack by truck in Nice, France and attempted coup in Turkey — have mildly bolstered Trump’s chances, along with the residual Clinton-negative effects of FBI director James Colmey’s critical assessment of her email handling (without recommending an indictment).

Trump’s choice of Indiana governor Mike Pence for vice president has been overshadowed by other news. His postponed-until-today appearance with Pence will be anticlimactic and is unlikely to have much bearing on the odds. The Republican National Convention begins in Cleveland next week and could additionally boost Trump, but might not. The Democrat convention follows, which might shave points off any lead Trump might have then.

See current odds (with links to other months)

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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