Daily 2016 U.S. Presidential Odds (August)

► Mike Caro   → Exit

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Previously unpublished odds since the Indiana primary in mid-June have Clinton at a high of 62.9% and Trump at a high of 67.5%.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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 : Trump 54.4% ↑
(Up 0.2% from yesterday)

1.19-to-1 against Clinton
(1:03 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Today, Trump is scheduled to meet with Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto. This decision was announced yesterday and comes in response to an invitation from the Mexican leader to both Trump and Clinton. It is expected that Clinton will accept the invitation soon.

Although the odds didn’t change much since yesterday (a 0.2% gain for Trump), this visit by Trump could have significant impact, either favorably to him or to Clinton. Likewise, Clinton’s expected visit will have impact after it happens. And since she goes later, it’s like a positional advantage in poker — she gets to fashion her meeting after already seeing how well his went.

For that reason, even if the meeting goes well for Trump — who has an additional disadvantage of being at odds with Mexican government sentiments on U.S. immigration policy — his gains could be short-term. Clinton could squash them afterward. All that is factored into and adds volatility to these odds. A misstep from Trump is possible in this adventure. Any negative reaction after the meeting, primarily from the Mexican government itself, could hurt him. But if he’s able to have what voters see as a civil and stately discussion, that will help.

Trump still plans a major immigration speech in Arizona, also on Wednesday (today). There’s a slight chance he may modify it or reschedule, because of his Mexico meeting.

Meanwhile Clinton continues to be bombarded by even more potential threats regarding pay-for-play surrounding the Clinton Foundation and her actions while Secretary of State. More emails will soon be released by others, as well as a partial record of her interview with the FBI (as part of their now-concluded investigation that condemned her actions, but recommended no criminal charges).

As always, other previously discussed events are being tracked and have continuous bearing on these daily assessments.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 : Trump 54.2% ↓
(Down 0.1% from yesterday)

1.18-to-1 against Clinton
(2:18 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: No significant new events entered the presidential political arena. Clinton’s negatives seemed less skilfully exploited by Trump and by media reporting than anticipated.

However, this comparative lull in use of heavy artillery shouldn’t be expected to last long. Trump’s planned immigration speech in Arizona, scheduled for tomorrow, will meet with scrutiny from both liberals and conservatives. How that plays out may signal bigger shifts in these odds.

The personal story about Huma Aberdin’s husband (a former congressman from New York) caught in another texting scandal involving near-sexual exposure will likely have little impact on the presidential race, despite the fact that she is arguably Clinton’s closest aide.

The Los Angeles Times daily tracking poll yesterday showed Trump very slightly in the lead after trailing the day before. However, this is different from other recent polls that have Clinton well ahead. A new round of polls is expected and the results of those might matter. A new TV ad blitz by Trump in closely contested states, attacking Clinton on economic issues, seems well designed. But Clinton has a much larger cash reserve to buy counter ads. Meanwhile, not much movement here, as Clinton climbed a tenth of a percentage point.

Monday, August 29, 2016 : Trump 54.3% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.19-to-1 against Clinton
(3:06 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Previous factors mostly ran along expected paths. A few minor ones favored Clinton or Trump, but basically offset each other. So, the net change averaged out to nothing (less than 0.1 percent, but an almost meaningless gain for Trump, if you’re especially curious), leaving these odds unchanged.

Trump’s confused message about his planned immigration policy continues to hurt him. However, he promises a major speech on that topic in the near future (tentatively Wednesday). Two previously announced immigration speeches have been postponed.

Clinton continues to deflect ongoing trouble relative to email and the Clinton Foundation. However, this seems to have reached a point of diminishing returns for Trump and we are temporarily stalled, pending new allegations and evidence that might (or might not) be on the horizon.

Some minor new revelations and events relating to each candidate appeared. But their significance isn’t clear enough to be measured yet. So, we’ll see what happens today.

Sunday, August 28, 2016 : Trump 54.3% ↑
(Up 0.4% from yesterday)

1.19-to-1 against Clinton
(5:45 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: As I’ve stated previously, this presidential election is much more volatile on a daily basis than those in the past. It doesn’t require new events to have meaningful impact on odds. It only requires that stories, either positive or damaging, linger or fade.

Clinton is having a harder time shaking off email, Clinton Foundation, and other issues than she previously did. More voters seem to be focused on these negatives. Those are discouraging signs for her campaign.

Her efforts to paint Trump as bigoted and associated with racists doesn’t seem to have resonated broadly. While there is some negative Trump publicity for him calling her bigoted, that has not been much of an issue, either. He explained what he meant by using the poorly chosen word — that Democrat policies have left inner cities with high crime and poverty — while she less ambiguously tied him to racism. On balance, I see this bizzare exchange of mud slinging as a slight gain for Trump, definitely not a significant one.

Peripherally, Trump tweeted about the tragic murder of NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin, a 32-year-old woman who was murdered as an unintended victim in a gang shooting. He equated this to urban African-American violence with a vote-for-Trump plea. Some news sources have been building this into a negative, pointing out Trump’s insensitivity to use this immediately as a campaign issue. The tweet was later deleted and replaced with one expressing condolences. Whether this will have much impact will be determined beginning today. To me, this was a Trump misstep. Attempts to paint it as more significant seem out of proportion, but they could work.

While that was happening, a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll showed Trump gaining seven percentage points, as compared to the previous poll that showed him trailing by 12. An interesting aspect of that poll was the 23 percent who refused to answer, were uncertain, or were voting for someone else.

When people refuse to answer, that helps Trump. To what degree would depend on what portion of that 23 percent were in the “refused” category. But the reason for this is that there is a high degree of social stigma in some areas of the country for declaring support for Trump. That’s why you see amazingly few lawn signs, bumper stickers, and other visable Trump boosterism in these areas. Clinton’s outward signs of support are also less than usual, but not to the Trump degree. This suggests to me that the polls (whether interviews are anonymous, in-person, or whatever) might be underreporting Trump support due to this social stigma.

Trump moves up a modest four-tenths of a percentage point, based on yesterday’s activity.

Saturday, August 27, 2016 : Trump 53.9% ↑
(Up 0.1% from yesterday)

1.17-to-1 against Clinton
(4:04 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Clinton was largely absent from the campaign trail. But Trump wasn’t.

Older events continue to play out, as do a war of ads and messaging. All that tended to even out.

“Picklegate” was a curiosity, especially online. That’s the appearance of Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel in which she was asked to open a jar of pickles to demonstrate that she was healthy. Apparently the fix was in on that one and the jar probably had been previously opened or loosened. While some are finding this as evidence of Clinton’s deceptive character, I see it as only a tiny diversion that will have almost no relevance. The same is true of other short-lived distractions involving either candidate.

A bit more troubling — and hard to measure as either negative or positive for Clinton — was the Department of Justice’s announcement that they will not meet a court-imposed deadline to release Clinton’s calendar of meetings while serving as secretary of state. Those may not appear publicly until after the election. This can damage Clinton if perceived as the fix being in, but it could damage her more if the deadline were met and the revelations were negative. So, as I said, it’s hard to weigh that as either a gain or a loss.

Meanwhile, I suspect that forthcoming major polls will be kinder to Trump than the latest Quinnipiac one that showed him trailing by 10 percent. If those newer polls don’t show those expected gains, there could be a significant adjustment in these odds, favoring Clinton.

Friday, August 26, 2016 : Trump 53.8% ↓
(Down 1.2% from yesterday)

1.16-to-1 against Clinton
(4:05 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: What would have been a gain for Trump, based on a Clinton ad and dueling speeches, actually turned into an advantage for Clinton. The reason for this turnabout was entirely based on the way the events were reported.

First, the Clinton campaign released a video painting Trump as racist by using KKK members’ words that praised him, among other questionable propaganda-like methods going well beyond normal political “mud slinging.” My first thought was that this would heavily damage Clinton and that she would quickly and awkwardly need to repudiate her own ad. But that didn’t happen, because the media hasn’t treated that over-the-top video in the same way they likely would have discredited a Trump ad attacking Clinton similarly.

Then there were back-to-back speeches by Trump, followed by Clinton. His seemed almost flawless in delivery and strikingly inclusive toward African Americans and Hispanics — a tactic he has been using recently. However, he warned that Clinton’s desperation, due to what he perceives to be inroads he made in seeming more appealing to non-whites, would cause her to attack him and his followers as racist. He was right about that. Clinton followed with what I perceived to be a deplorable address, delivered in a soft and reasonable tone, that consistently set up straw man arguments that she could easily refute. In some cases, she quoted Trump at his worst from his past utterances, but mostly she focused on portraying him as ultra-extreme and racist.

I was surprised to hear, even on Fox News, which I recorded, that anchor Shepard Smith (who’s broadcasts increasingly lack objectivity in many areas) raved about her speech and suggested that she had tarnished him with his own words and by citing his own actions. I don’t think many analytical viewers thought her speech was as successful.

However, Clinton succeeded in persuading those who already think Trump is racist to further be afraid of him. And her more measured tone probably helped her.

Because Clinton wasn’t lambasted widely for having gone off the rails, as I would have suspected, her largely untruthful and seemingly risky attack may have worked. That’s why, on a day when Trump should have triumphed, Clinton gained.

By the way, for those of you just joining my odds and analysis, what I wrote above isn’t either anti-Clinton or pro-Trump. If you’ve read my criticisms of Trump’s past strategy, you might agree that I’m only analyzing and not taking sides. However, I have an obligation to say what I believe happened. And in this case, Clinton’s tactics were hard to defend. She released one of the most irresponsible ads in my memory and then enhanced that line of attack in a speech later in the day. Although I’m making this a plus for Clinton, due to questionable media coverage, there’s a chance that it might backfire in the long term.

Meanwhile a widely quoted Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton now leading by 10 points nationally. Many other recent polls show significant gains for Trump, so that seems a bit strange. But the importance is that Quinnipiac is broadly followed. That, also, may mean trouble for Trump, as will rumored links to the so-called alt-right because of his hiring of Stephen Bannon as campaign chief. More on that as (or if) it develops.

Thursday, August 25, 2016 : Trump 55.0% ↑
(Up 1.0% from yesterday)

1.22-to-1 against Clinton
(2:05 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Clinton’s troubles are getting so bad with latest revelations, particularly the widely quoted Associated Press story about donors to the Clinton Foundation gaining access to her while she served as Secretary of State, that they could prove extremely damaging. The question is whether voters are so overloaded with similar accusations that, instead of extremely damaging, they only add a little to her negatives.

Meanwhile a shift in public opinion polls toward Trump is clearly underway, but may not be fully reflected for several days. His wobbling on whether or not he would aggressively move to deport illegal immigrants may hurt him with his core supporters. On the other hand, this new position might win a larger number of moderate voters than lost among his most passionate supporters.

A full percentage point is gained by Trump today, bringing his chances to 55 percent or 11-to-9 in his favor. His chances of actually becoming president by winning the electoral college vote, however, are less than that. In fact, he probably remains the underdog in that regard, although these odds don’t predict the likelihood of state-by-state results — only the overall popular vote.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 : Trump 54.0% ↑
(Up 0.7% from yesterday)

1.17-to-1 against Clinton
(1:05 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The twin assaults on Clinton’s integrity continue to gain moment: emails and the Clinton Foundation. Major media is beginning to cover these stories, particularly the Clinton Foundation, more conspicuously.

While it may be a long time — perhaps after the November 8 voting — before the public understands what’s in the most-recent 14,900 newly found emails, the fact that weight keeps being added to the drama can only harm Clinton. Meanwhile, pay-for-play accusations, linking donations to the Clinton Foundation to government access and, in some circles, suspected government favors, threatens the campaign even more gravely.

In Clinton’s favor is the sense that most Americans aren’t sophisticated enough to investigate these happenings on their own and objectively determine what they mean. It’s all noise to many voters. And, as such, it won’t resonate unless big media says that it should.

A late-night appearance by Clinton with Jimmy Kimmel, in which she tried to treat the “scandals” humorously and, also, opened a pickle jar effortlessly to prove rumors of her poor health were false, seemed to play well with those in the audience. Attempting to diminish these serious events in the eyes of many voters is probably a good strategy for her — possibly the only tactic that might work, even though it tends to outrage the Trump crowd.

Trump has made no major recent mistakes — an unusual stretch for him. He appeared on Fox New’s Hannity in part one of a taped “town hall” last night, with the result not having much influence on his long-term chances. Put it all together with ongoing factors and you have him gaining a bit of ground yesterday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 : Trump 53.3% ↑
(Up 0.2% from yesterday)

1.14-to-1 against Clinton
(5:58 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Another slow day provided little movement on either side.

The revelation of an additional 14,900 or so “lost” Clinton emails is beginning to add slightly more damage to her campaign. However, it is in an area where voters already may have been overloaded with similar news, making the latest revelations fall into the “Law of Diminishing Returns” category from Trump’s perspective. We’ll see.

Along with previous factors that are unfolding, Trump regained the 0.2 percent he lost in yesterday’s odds.

Monday, August 22, 2016 : Trump 53.1% ↓
(Down 0.2% from yesterday)

1.13-to-1 against Clinton
(2:16 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Overall Clinton gained 0.2 percent due to weaker-than-anticipated positive coverage of Trump’s intended more palatable new direction. In fact, much coverage was negative, which seemed odd to me.

Because Trump made no gains and Clinton took no new hits, that left ongoing factors to influence the odds. All-in-all, a not significant Clinton gain.

Expect today to see much more activity.

Sunday, August 21, 2016 : Trump 53.3% ↑
(Up 1.0% from yesterday)

1.14-to-1 against Clinton
(3:15 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Nothing new of significance entered the race-for-president arena yesterday. However, Clinton’s respite from major campaigning, coupled with her opponent’s continued on-target messaging, have helped Trump more than most analysts acknowledge.

The Los Angeles Times daily tracking poll now shows Trump with a very slight lead. On the other hand, a poll of Virginia registered voters taken between 10 and five days ago shows Clinton’s lead widening in that state. That may present problems for Trump, because it’s the state-by-state electoral vote that decides the election. But these odds only focus on the popular vote.

Trump met with mostly pro-Republican Hispanic leaders yesterday, a meeting that was postponed the previous day so that Trump could visit flooded areas in Louisiana. He is beginning to target Hispanic voters in the same way that he recently targeted African American voters (and continues to do so). Again, this tactic doesn’t need to be wildly successful in gaining those votes. It just needs to succeed in making other voters worried about his perceived bigotry feel more comfortable. My guess is that Trump genuinely believes in the inclusiveness he espouses, but even if he doesn’t, it’s a good move.

Trump again gained, this time by one percentage point. That means his lead widened by two percentage points, when his gain is subtracted from Clinton’s total.

Saturday, August 20, 2016 : Trump 52.3% ↑
(Up 3.8% from yesterday)

1.10-to-1 against Clinton
(4:48 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: A core premise behind these odds, as analyzed, was that Trump would be likely to win if he presented himself less abrasively. Although he has failed to do so, except for short periods until this week, his revamped demeanor probably is scoring with a significant number of voters.

Yesterday’s Trump visit to flooded areas in Louisiana helped him look presidential, especially since President Obama has yet to go there. Trump’s initial round of TV advertisements, long delayed, in key “battleground” states may help him with the overall popular vote, as well. These are primarily attacks on Clinton, rather than positive messages about Trump — a slight fumble at this time. Trump’s “What do you have to lose?” appeal to African Americans, asserting that Democrat policies have failed them probably will resonate. It may move some black voters his way, but more importantly, it makes it harder for Clinton to paint him as bigoted. If he used a similar tactic in pursuit of Hispanics, women, and even liberals, his chances might increase even more.

Negatives continue to pile up for Clinton — possible health issues, emails, Clinton Foundation, and more. She needs to find a way to wrap all of these into one package and forcefully address them to the satisfaction of voters. If she can do that skilfully, Trump’s attacks will seem to be piling on and be resented by many. However, it will be difficult for her to find a good strategy for dismissing these negatives without seeming to be spinning the truth. Maybe she can. Probably not.

It’s not necessary to wait for the next round of major polls to show that the presidential race is now moving in Trump’s direction. That’s almost a given and has been incorporated into today’s odds.

My comments here regarding Trump’s poor strategy have been almost brutal sometimes. That was merited. But also merited is the clearly positive change in tactics recently. Even Paul Manafort leaving the campaign yesterday, while a short-term distraction, is weighed as a long-term Trump positive in these odds. He was going to become a burden for Trump, due to stories about him being tied to questionable deals with pro-Russian entities.

With today’s 3.8 percent gain for Trump, Clinton relinquishes the lead she had held for 10 days.

Friday, August 19, 2016 : Clinton 51.5% ↓
(Down 1.5% from yesterday)

1.06-to-1 against Trump
(3:19 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: As Trump appears to be modifying his demeanor and uttering more palatable words, a single factor is beginning to dominate these odds. That factor: Can Trump sustain this new approach long enough? If it were guaranteed that he would, these odds would already show him as a significant favorite to win the popular vote, rather than a slight underdog.

Yesterday, for the first time, Trump expressed a degree of regret for past comments and concern for those who might have been hurt by them. That, in itself, will sound so surprising to some that it might work in his favor with voters concerned about his frequently overbearing and unscripted verbal aggression.

Clinton’s troubles deepened mildly, but her appearance front and center with key law enforcement officers will work to persuade some voters that she isn’t anti-police, as Trump awkwardly has alleged.

The major polls haven’t diminished Clinton’s lead significantly yet, but there are indications that the next few rounds of polls will be more favorable to Trump. Two less-closely-watched polls already suggest this, though both use methodology beyond the norm.

Movement is currently in Trump’s direction, but he has shown a history of saying the wrong things spontaneously and thereby stopping or slowing him momentum. Will that history continue? Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 18, 2016 : Clinton 53.0% ↓
(Down 0.1% from yesterday)

1.13-to-1 against Trump
(8:09 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Trump’s promotion of Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager is more likely to help than hurt. Part of her focus probably will be finding ways of making him more palatable to female voters. His hiring of Steve Bannon as new chief executive for the campaign is more controversial, due to ties to the Breitbart news site, which is resented by many left-leaning voters and reporters. Paul Manafort remains, for now, as campaign chairman. Remember that Manafort was brought in to replace Corey Lewandowski, who had guided the campaign successfully through the primaries.

This additional campaign shakeup happens rather late by modern standards. Too late? Maybe.

Meanwhile Clinton’s possible health issues continue to simmer and now threaten to become a voter issue. This will be closely followed, but could fade.

Other continuing factors slightly favor Trump. So, the net change in these odds was meager. Trump gains, but by only 0.1 percent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 : Clinton 53.1% ↓
(Down 1.5% from yesterday)

1.13-to-1 against Trump
(5:22 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The primary movement factors since yesterday’s odds were (1) Trump’s campaign rally speech in Milwaukee and (2) just-released polls.

Trump’s speech (delivered mostly using a teleprompter for the second consecutive day) seemed to impress many, but not all, key analysts. It also has the potential to appeal to a wide spectrum of voters. His strong support of law enforcement, while stressing the importance of making high-crime areas safer for African Americans, may sound appealing and even strangely compassionate to voters who can yet be persuaded. He may even peel off a small percentage of black votes with this approach.

Whether or not Trump will continue to display this softer, more reasonable, demeanor is uncertain. But if he does, his chances may increase substantially.

With news about Clinton mostly negative yesterday, coupled with a continued absence of now-expected Trump missteps, very little weighed in her favor.

Two polls showed nine-point and two-point Clinton percentage advantages. The Real Clear Politics average has her leading by 6.7 percent. It’s likely that Trump will narrow projected popular vote leads in the week ahead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 : Clinton 54.6% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.20-to-1 against Trump
(4:29 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: For the second consecutive day, there has been no change in the odds. This is highly unusual in a race this volatile, but that’s how it turned out.

Trump’s ISIS speech by teleprompter yesterday was well-received and delivered mostly calmly and persuasively. That’s good. The bad is that it received surprisingly light attention in the dominant media and some attention it did get wasn’t positive.

Trump’s continued attacks on the media are more likely to be a waste of energy than a productive campaign strategy. But it seems as if he’s decided to emphasize perceived news bias as an offensive weapon. It’s not certain that this will fail as a long-term tactic, but it probably will.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s appearance with Vice President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania was also well received. However, pending congressional scrutiny of the transcripts of her FBI interview relative to her server and emails may add to her growing list of obstacles. That, too, is uncertain.

No major new polls were released yet, though some will be in the next few days. The average Clinton lead for these odds to be on target is 7.3 percent. Much more or much less will affect the candidates’ odds here.

Monday, August 15, 2016 : Clinton 54.6% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.20-to-1 against Trump
(4:40 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Nothing dramatic happened. The previously tracked issues combined to leave the odds as they were yesterday.

Trump has announced a major address on ISIS today. Depending on what he says and how he says it, that could have a slight influence on future odds.

I’m expecting this week’s polls to indicate a modest reduction of the Clinton lead. If those polls are surprising, the odds will be adjusted accordingly.

Sunday, August 14, 2016 : Clinton 54.6% ↑
(Up 0.1% from yesterday)

1.20-to-1 against Trump
(11:44 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The odds barely moved as continuing factors played a mostly cancelling role in each candidate’s chances.

Pressure for Trump to release his tax returns mounted. Clinton emails and their related revelations still resonated at a reduced rate. Milwaukee riots by blacks following a police shooting have a very small long-range influence, mostly in favor of Trump. Many other events continue to tug at the odds.

Trump has announced a major address on ISIS Monday. [NOTE: These comments originally reported that the speech would be tomorrow (Sunday). That was incorrect.] Yesterday, and early today, has been weak as far as influence on the popular vote outcome. But momentum on many events could develop into bigger shifts in these odds.

Saturday, August 13, 2016 : Clinton 54.5% ↑
(Up 4.0% from yesterday)

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

Quick comments: Not much new, but Clinton is initially surviving extremely harmful events previously discussed. Meanwhile, Trump is strategically melting down.

What Trump seems to be doing is overstating things about Clinton that would damage her greatly if he said little or explained them in dark, but rational terms. Whenever he speaks outrageously or over-the-top, he steals the negative spotlight from Clinton. It’s just that simple. People and press then talk about whether his reactions are reasonable. So, he is essentially competing for the negative publicity that Clinton’s deeds ignite.

If I were Trump’s chief strategist, I would recommend this course: Stop trying to connect with people at rallies and pretend your audience is made up of independent and undecided women. Use the tone of voice, soft logic, and calmer persuasiveness Trump is known for when speaking one-to-one with moderate interviewers.

However, it’s going to be too late for even that strategy to work if he doesn’t switch soon. Some recent polls suggest that Trump is driving his own chances down and not allowing Clinton’s to fall.

The main reason for the large bounce in Clinton’s odds today is that it’s becoming clearer that Trump doesn’t understand what his obvious strategy should be and inadvertently is working as Clinton’s savior.

Friday, August 12, 2016 : Clinton 50.5% ↑
(Up 0.5% from yesterday)

1.02-to-1 against Trump
(4:30 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Those who haven’t followed previous discussions related to the presidential odds may be surprised by today’s percentage. How could Clinton have gained when events continued to weigh heavily against her?

It’s because nothing major new entered the stage, except for increased spotlighting on an old story outside the predominant media. That old story is Clinton’s defense of a then 41-year-old man decades ago. The man was charged with violent rape of a 12-year-old girl. Clinton defended him, successfully getting evidence withheld from court, and later laughed about it in an interview. That’s an old story that many already knew. But now the victim has surfaced and is speaking disparagingly of Clinton. What damage it will have will depend on the extent that the public becomes aware of it, how skilfully Clinton counters, and whether Trump forces take advantage in ads or other ways that will seem palatable to voters.

The Clinton recent negatives, commented on previously, still remain central and put her at a disadvantage. However, Trump has once again misplayed his hand.

Instead of focusing on those Clinton problems, he has mysteriously decided to label President Obama the father of ISIS. He also called Clinton the co-founder. It’s arguably true that both supported policies that made ISIS more likely to form and thrive, but the founder terminology goes beyond what is politically expedient to say. And because it does, media focus is once again centered on what many perceive as Trump’s weird comments and less on Clinton’s troubles.

So, the main reason for Clinton’s increased chances is that Trump inadvertently helped her struggle out of a very negative news cycle. Those negatives had already been factored into the odds in a more damaging way than is now merited. Thus, the adjustment in favor of Clinton.

Also, there are continued Republican deserters to the Trump cause and questions about whether the Republican National Committee should provide money and resources on his behalf. This is harming Trump slightly.

Thursday, August 11, 2016 : Clinton 50.1% ↓
(Down 1.5% from yesterday)

1.00+-to-1 against Trump
(8:06 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Clinton barely maintained the lead that she took back from Trump yesterday. The daily volatility in these odds is much greater than it would be in other recent presidential elections.

Clinton is having a very bad run of news, sort of. “Sort of” because the predominant media is downplaying the events more than expected.

It’s beginning to look as if U.S. Department of Justice will be seen by many voters as politically corrupt. Whether or not proof will surface is not known, but some might suggest proof is already present. I’m not sure.

It’s pretty clear that there has been political corruption in the State Department, though, substantially working in Clinton’s favor. That’s more understandable, since Clinton was Secretary of State and ruled over the agency. But interference in Clinton investigations by the DOJ, if validated, may bother voters more. It’s always been assumed that the DOJ was nonpolitical. Evidence is now surfacing that it may have blocked or discouraged an FBI probe into illegal pay-for-play between the Clinton Foundation and political donors while the now presidential candidate was Secretary of State.

These Clinton-negative happenings are being supported by Wikileaks email disclosures and by a small sample of emails the State Department was forced to release by court order.

Meanwhile, Trump made no major gaffs, which will serve as a period of relief for his supporters who may now believe that his next blunder is always around the corner. Just projecting.

Other tracked factors made little difference as their projected course didn’t stray much from what was anticipated. A few did slightly, but they were balanced by others.

Trump is also beginning to close the wide and sudden gap that Clinton had opened above him in recent polls. Ultimately, much depends on the debates in which Trump has a key advantage. He doesn’t need to win. He gains just by seeming reasonably informed and personable. Clinton probably does need to win decisively to avoid dropping in the polls. The first debate is currently scheduled for for September 26.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 : Clinton 51.6% ↑
(Up 8.8% from yesterday)

1.07-to-1 against Trump
(1:40 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: This is the first time Clinton has led these odds since daily publication began on July 16. However, in preliminary tracking, prior to publication, she reached a high of 69.9 percent.

You might find it strange that this massive drop of 8.8 percentage points for Trump happened yesterday when some events could greatly damage Clinton.

Particularly bad for Clinton was video that showed the father of the terrorist killer in the Orlando gay night club massacre standing closely behind her during a campaign speech the day before. How he got that near and why he’s a Clinton supporter, in light of his radical views on some issues, hasn’t been revealed fully. Also damaging Clinton is Julian Assange’s claim that his Wikileaks did not get the hacked-and-released Democratic National Committee emails from Russian sources, as speculated. He seems to be saying that they came from a mysteriously murdered DNC staffer. Plot thickens. And more Clinton trouble possibly is pending, some of it discussed in previous days’ “Quick comments” sections.

Despite that, Trump made his biggest gaff to date. At a rally, he said: “By the way if she [Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” The dominant media is now fully exploiting this, saying it was a call for Clinton to be assassinated or, perhaps, for liberal judges to be. The media isn’t buying the Trump campaign explanation that he only meant that people who believe in gun rights might be able to stop Clinton politically. To me, it seemed somewhat likely that Trump was making a poor-taste, unscripted joke, but it’s hard to be certain of his true intent.

What’s probable is that the sound bite will be played again and again by his adversaries and by the mainstream press (same thing to some Trump supporters, I suppose). This is the main reason for Trump’s dramatic fall today, fair or unfair.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 : Trump 57.2% ↑
(Up 1.1% from yesterday)

1.34-to-1 against Clinton
(3:50 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Today’s odds mark the end of a long slide for Trump (although they were unchanged yesterday from the day before). This is his first gain since July 27. Note that since July 16 — when these daily odds were first published — Trump has always been the favorite to win the popular vote. That’s contrary to projections you’ll find in most other sources.

Clinton’s possible health issues have resurfaced, with demands from many that she release her medical records. This, along with a fast-growing number of physicians who are now publicly challenging her physical suitability for the presidency, hasn’t been widely covered in the so-called “mainstream” media. But the discussion, videos, and photographs are suddenly available in many other places. Thus, it will be hard for the press to remain united in near silence.

Clinton supporters might take comfort in the fact that this flare-up has been largely ignited by the Drudge Report (drudgereport.com). That’s a major news aggregation website that appears significantly more favorable to conservative news than liberal, and many left-leaning voters will consider it biased toward Trump.

How significant this will become is not clear yet, but there’s a strong possibility that it will damage Clinton.

Trump, though, will be damaged by an open letter saying he is unqualified, signed by 50 former Republican national security advisers. What percentage that is of the total number of Republicans who have served in similar positions is open to interpretation.

Also of concern to Trump is the announced third party candidacy of Evan McMullin. Although he can’t be on the ballot in every state, the relatively minor number of votes he is likely to draw will hurt Trump more than Clinton.

But a positive for Trump yesterday was his well-received speech in Detroit on economics. It was almost entirely read from a teleprompter.

Monday, August 8, 2016 : Trump 56.1% ↔
(Unchanged from yesterday)

1.28-to-1 against Clinton
(5:20 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Little to say until we see what develops later today when Trump is scheduled to make a major economics speech.

How that is received and reported may have a significant impact on the odds.

Meanwhile Clinton’s health status came into question again with photos of her seeming to need assistance climbing stairs. This could turn out to be nothing much or something that enters the political conversation.

Trump’s wife, Melania, is facing new scrutiny about her immigration status when she first arrived in the United States on a short-term visa. One issue is that she participated in a photo shoot and it’s unclear whether she was authorized to work. Other related questions are beginning to approach center stage. Whether this will have much impact on the race is still unclear, but in the context of the presidential candidate’s focus on illegal immigration, this could turn uncomfortable for him. But maybe not. Again, we’ll wait to see.

Today marks the end of a nine-day losing streak for Trump in these odds. It’s the second-time in 12 days that there has been no change. Trump hasn’t advanced in those 12 days.

Sunday, August 7, 2016 : Trump 56.1% ↓
(Down 0.2% from yesterday)

1.28-to-1 against Clinton
(11:14 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: There was very little new to analyze in the way of events.

Although Trump is rebounding in a couple of recent polls, that had already been weighed and was expected. It could be that Trump will close the gap more quickly than anticipated. But whether this will happen, and thus be reflected in these odds, remains unknown.

The dominant press continues to underplay recent errors by Clinton, but that’s as expected. Trump is likely to be faced with that large disadvantage throughout the campaign.

Trump has been losing ground in key states he will need in order to capture the electoral college and become president, but that doesn’t have much effect on these odds, because they only track his likelihood of winning the popular vote.

Trump has pretty much stuck to his deescalated approach to attacking peripheral players and looks a bit more presidential. However, he is perhaps attacking Clinton with language that is too over-the-top (“monster” among others) and these make for perfect opposition sound bites that can present him as unhinged mentally, even though they don’t sound as bad in context.

The main reason for the slight gain in Clinton’s chances is that Trump’s declaration of love for the Republican party two days ago has gone largely unrequited. The party unity he was seeking by endorsing or praising Ryan, as well as senators Ayotte and McCain, may happen in conspicuous fashion, but we’re still waiting.

There was also a minor setback for Trump when Scott Rigell, from Virginia, became the third Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives to publicly say he will not vote for Trump.

Saturday, August 6, 2016 : Trump 56.3% ↓
(Down 2.1% from yesterday)

1.29-to-1 against Clinton
(10:35 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Today’s odds require an additional explanation. This marks the eighth day consecutively that Trump has fallen and he hasn’t shown a gain in 10 days. (There was no change on July 29.)

However, yesterday was really a two-part day. I was prepared to enter a massive readjustment downward for Trump of about 7.5 percent — an almost inconceivable shift, considering that no monumental new events occurred. That adjustment would have been a cumulative weighing of factors. It would have included the beyond-expected amount of bias exhibited recently by the dominant media, dramatic Clinton gains in public opinion polls, Trump’s indications that he was not going to adjust his course and become more politically savvy (although he had seemed to do so the two previous days), and continued squabbling among Republicans. Particularly, Clinton’s ability to add endorsements of notable Republicans threatened Trump’s stature.

That was part one yesterday. But part two was different. Trump seemed to stay more focused for the third day in a row. His endorsement of Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House)was expected, but his further endorsements of John McCain and Kelly Ayotte were not. Although his announcement of this support was clearly scripted, it may have given Republican opponents a path to come aboard. We’ll have to wait and see.

Also in yesterday’s part two was a strange appearance by Clinton, billed as a news conference, before a group of journalists (predominantly black and Hispanic). The applause from these journalists was so unexpected in the context of the event that it probably reinforces notions of press bias and hurts Clinton.

These and other tracked factors combine to diminish the fall for Trump. It’s more likely than not that he will now rebound somewhat in the polls taken in the weeks ahead — a time when a significant portion of Americans will focus on the Olympics. Then will come the first debate on September 26. Trump is in the enviable situation that he doesn’t need to win to gain. If he just survives that debate, it will be enough to reassure some voters that he can handle the presidency. Clinton must not only win to avoid losing ground, she must win decisively — and she might.

Friday, August 5, 2016 : Trump 58.4% ↓
(Down 0.1% from yesterday)

1.40-to-1 against Clinton
(2:43 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: There are few truly new factors to analyze, but those previously tracked balanced enough to have slowed Trump’s descent.

Trump has done much better in his campaign rallies yesterday and the day before, only making an occasional slight misstep. If he continues to focus on the issues, instead of responding to attacks from peripheral players in the campaign, he’ll likely increase his standing.

The only major positive for Clinton is that she continues to show major gains in most of the recent polls. The Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California (USC) poll is the exception, showing Trump trailing by only one percent. However, that poll uses a different methodology than most. It shows a strong decline for Trump from a previous lead.

The $400 million nighttime delivery (in cash by plane) to Iran, which President Obama in a news conference yesterday claimed was not a payment for the release of American hostages, continues to be an issue. Obama’s denial is unlikely to satisfy critics. His assertion is that this was a payment in accordance with a previous settlement agreement. Iran officials claim it was, essentially, a ransom payment. But if Obama’s claim is true, presumably he could produce written documentation that the $400 million was a down payment — in the form of a written receipt or acknowledgment from Iran. None was offered. So, a plus for Trump there, even though Clinton wasn’t in the administration at the time.

Clinton’s statement at a rally that she was going to increase taxes on the middle class (obviously not what she meant), which was met strangely with enthusiasm from supporters, will possibly be played in ads to her disadvantage. Raising taxes on the middle class is precisely what many opponents argue will happen.

Other factors slightly favored Trump.

Thursday, August 4, 2016 : Trump 58.5% ↓
(Down 0.2% from yesterday)

1.41-to-1 against Clinton
(1:46 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: Four major recent polls have shown a dramatic jump in Clinton support. While only registered voters were polled, rather than the more reliable “likely voters,” the shift is significant. The Clinton advantage in these polls ranged from seven to 10 percent.

I had previously expected any polls covering the period of today through a week or so from now to show Clinton with a 3.5 percentage lead among likely voters and narrow shortly thereafter. I now believe that lead will be around six percent and might not evaporate until the first debate on September 26. Of course, that debate will largely determine where the election stands. It may damage Clinton or doom Trump.

Clinton has many new problems to deal with — her on-the-record support for the $400 million in cash secretly flown to Iran before the prisoner swap, more high-ranking officials being removed from the Democratic National Committee following the Wikileaks email revelations, a less-than-expected fund-raising advantage of $90 million to Trump’s $80 million in July, lies told during a weekend interview in which most of the public knows the truth, and an obsession with attacking Trump in her campaign speeches that seems so over-the-top it could backfire.

Despite these and many other Clinton negatives being tracked, Trump continues to stumble. The latest was his acceptance of a Purple Heart from its recipient, given as a show of faith in his campaign, by saying he “always wanted” one. Some veterans (his political allies) are upset by that, because the medal isn’t something you earn without being gravely wounded. Still, the bad press resulting from that is, as usual, overblown. That’s because the Purple Heart recipient wasn’t upset and, in fact, expressed his admiration for the way Trump had treated him backstage before the public announcement. In typical Trump fashion, he did nothing terrible, but seems not to grasp that the majority in the media is looking for anything negative to shoot him with. He needs to stop providing ammunition.

The reason Trump remains a favorite is because Clinton is an extremely poor and not popular candidate. I think Trump (also not broadly popular) is likely to eventually grasp what he needs to do, and if that happens in the next few weeks, his chances of winning remain excellent. Additionally, the next round of polls, are likely to show Clinton’s lead shrinking and, with a revised game plan, Trump can build on that and gain momentum.

The Olympics in Brazil has its opening ceremony tomorrow. That should take a portion of the spotlight off the election and perhaps give Trump a chance to reboot. We’ll see.

Anyway, it’s another down day for Trump who falls an additional 0.2 percent. He has lost ground six consecutive days and hasn’t gained in eight days.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 : Trump 58.7% ↓
(Down 1.7% from yesterday)

1.42-to-1 against Clinton
(9:10 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: The bias of the dominant media — partially in favor of Clinton, but mainly just in opposition to Trump — has become significantly greater than anticipated.

Just so you understand, the original model for analyzing these odds had a 16 point media advantage for Clinton built in. This means, for instance, that if Trump would normally be winning by 57 percent to 43 percent, Clinton would actually be ahead 51 percent to 49 percent after factoring in the reporting bias. Simply put, the bias was presumed to be strong enough to make Clinton eight percent more popular and Trump eight percent less popular.

What is even scarier is that I recognize the very words I just wrote will be interpreted as political bias by many. If that’s how you’re interpreting them, please read through all of the “Quick comments” since July 16 and see if you still feel that way.

Anyway, the dominant media bias is probably greater than the 16 points worth of influence I was estimating. Most of the downward adjustment in today’s odds is due to a reevaluation, based on current evidence, of how dramatically media is distorting news of the presidential race.

Trump’s self-imposed damage has been large and has recurred throughout his campaign. But Clinton’s damage would be worse, if modern-day journalists covered all related stories fairly and with equal zeal.

Particular factors that also influenced the 1.7 percent downward shift for Trump today included his refusal to currently support Paul Ryan or John McCain and continued bad press for his “attack” on the parents of an honored Army Captain killed in Iraq. Trump actually didn’t attack the parents, but unsophisticated observers would get the impression from the media that he did. What happened, instead, was that Trump demonstrated dramatic ignorance of what should be said in a presidential campaign and how to say it. It’s his fumble, his fault. But the media’s five-day hyper-obsession with this story is baffling.

Meanwhile Clinton would normally be falling, after her initial post-convention boost, but isn’t yet. The Wall Street Journal revelation of the Obama administration shipping $400 million to Iran, seemingly in exchange for hostages, should work against her. So should other significant events.

President Obama called Trump unfit to be president in a news conference with a foreign leader yesterday. That was so bizarre and seemed so out of the ordinary for a president speaking from the White House that it’s not certain it will do Trump much damage.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 : Trump 60.4% ↓
(Down 0.7% from yesterday)

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

Quick comments: I’m beginning to wonder if Trump is capable of saying savvy things in the face of criticism. If he’s going to win, he’ll need to let stuff slide and push his message. He’s still a favorite, because Clinton is such a weak candidate and, presumably, at some point Trump will figure out that his overly sensitive personality and inclination to attack unnecessarily are harming him. But it’s not a certainty that he will.

Also harming Trump is Clinton support from Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban, both billionaires who tend to diminish his stature as the wise rich guy in the race. However, each of these adversaries have negatives that diminish the impact of their attacks.

A CBS poll taken immediately after the close of the Democratic National Convention and spanning three days showed Clinton jumping from dead even (42% to 42%) to a 46 to 39 percentage lead against Trump. This is only slightly greater than expected for such a poll, given the timing and circumstances. Still, a slight advantage for Clinton.

All factors considered, Trump continues his slow plummet and now has just better than a 3-to-2 favorable chance of beating Clinton.

Monday, August 1, 2016 : Trump 61.1% ↓
(Down 0.6% from yesterday)

1.57-to-1 against Clinton
(6:30 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.)

Quick comments: There is much less to analyze now that the conventions have concluded. Most previous factors are still being considered, but their influence is reduced. New issues are not expected to be introduced quite as often.

Still, Trump’s blatant misstep in not showing expected sympathy for the father and mother of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq has damaged him significantly. Whether this will blow over or be effectively used by Clinton’s campaign until the November vote is not known. Yes, the reaction is overstated. Trump was strongly attacked by the father at the Democratic National Convention. His response is reasonable, even his musing about why the wife stood beside her husband and never spoke. But the words Trump chose should never have cleared the internal editor in his brain. He should know that he can’t gamble with words as easily as Clinton can, because the press and his critics aren’t playing fair.

By contrast, Clinton responded to the attack at the Republican National Convention from a mother who had lost her son in Benghazi by suggesting the woman was lying or, at least, not remembering correctly. Similar outrage to Clinton’s insensitivity has not appeared in the press, even though there’s a strong logical likelihood that Clinton is lying. Double standard? You think?

My point isn’t to complain that the press is bias. That’s self-evident — just another factor to be considered. I have no favorite candidate when I make these odds — as you can see from following my previous analysis. But to deny that this great bias exists and heavily favors Clinton is to make odds emotionally and not rationally.

Clinton had a reasonably good interview on Fox News yesterday with Chris Wallace. Although she sidestepped questions and spun answers, she did so with significant political skill and managed to appear more personable than many perceive her to be. That’s a plus for Clinton and had a minor effect on the odds.

We are awaiting the first post-conventions polls. For the purposes of this analysis, particular focus will be on polls released toward the end of this week and for about a week thereafter. That will mark a settling in of public opinion. As previously stated, we expect Clinton to average a 3.5 percent lead at that point. If it’s much more or much less, that will likely have a significant effect on the odds.

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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