With a week to go, projection models still give Clinton lead, but lasting impact of ‘Comey Effect’ uncertain

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It’s being called the “Comey Effect,” but it’s hard to say just how much of an impact it has had at this point and whether it will grow in the last week before Election Day.

Democrat Hillary Clinton still maintains a lead, but she definitely lost ground last week in most of the eight projection models we have been following the past month in tracking the presidential election. Six of the eight models posted updates Monday, and they produced a wide range of changes. Four of them showed double-digit losses in electoral votes, ranging from 23 to 59. But one showed a loss of only one electoral vote, and another actually increased her total by one.

Was it all due to FBI Director James Comey’s releasing information Friday that more emails may have been found that could affect the bureau’s previous investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state? Not necessarily.

The University of Virginia team that puts out one of the models we’ve been tracking, the Crystal Ball 2016 Electoral College Ratings, points out that the race was already tightening before news came out about the new wrinkle in Clinton email troubles. That’s because the spotlight has been harsh on both Clinton and Republican Donald Trump when it has turned their way. Last week, it was mostly on Clinton, thanks to the announcement of steep price increases to obtain insurance under Obamacare, plus potentially damaging releases by WikiLeaks that it attributed to hacked emails to and from her campaign manager, John Podesta.

But while the Comey Effect and that other bad news mostly took votes from Clinton, it didn’t always give a big bump to Trump. The change for Trump ranged from a loss of six electoral votes to a gain as high as 38 votes, but it should be noted that while that particular model gave Trump a good boost, it gave him even higher totals only two weeks ago.

Even with all this tightening, pre- and post-Comey, all the models we’ve tracked still give Clinton a lead, with only one of them has her short of the 270 electoral votes needed for election. Her totals range from 263 to 323 – that high figure came from one of the models that has not updated since last week, when her range was from 262 electoral votes to 352.

Trump’s scores on the models run from 164 electoral votes to 215. Last week, they ran from 126 to 191.

Tossup states also saw a wide range of change, from a decline of 39 electoral votes to an increase of 59.

Once again, let’s stress that these are projections and all have a human element that adds uncertainty to these totals, which are, after all, merely predictions.

Trump and his supporters may find they would rather believe machines. CNBC has reported that an artificial intelligence system that accurately predicted the results of the past three presidential elections was giving its mechanical nod to Trump.

There’s also a history professor at American University who uses a system based on 13 keys to predict the winner, something he says he has done correctly in the past eight elections. Allan Lichtman says the keys favor Trump, although there are a couple of conditions that could affect this prediction. One is whether Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson manages to draw 5 percent of the vote. The other factor is the unprecedented nature of Trump’s campaign, which makes this an election year like no other.

“We have never seen someone who is broadly regarded as a history-shattering, precedent-making, dangerous candidate who could change the patterns of history that have prevailed since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860,” Lichtman told The Washington Post.

There’s one other thing: The Comey Effect is not one of Lichtman’s keys.

Here are some of the basics you need to know when looking at these models, which are found on the political website 270towin.com and RealClearPolitics:

They all rate states as “safe” for one candidate or the other, “likely” or “leaning,” or “undecided,” and they assess how many electoral votes each candidate has. 270towin offers explanations for how models arrive at their conclusions.

We concentrate on the “likely,” “leaning” and “undecided” states to help explain where candidates are choosing to campaign.

One other complication in the math: Electoral votes can be divided among candidates in Maine and Nebraska.

We will run one more roundup on Election Day.

Here’s a look at the most recent projections from each model:

COOK POLITICAL REPORT FORECAST (as of Oct. 27)

Overall – Clinton 293 electoral votes to 179 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 278 electoral votes to 179 for Trump

Up for grabs – 66 electoral votes (81 last week)

Florida (29), Ohio (18), Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Maine (1) and Nebraska (1).

Last week – Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Maine (1) and Nebraska (1)

Likely voting for Clinton – 55 electoral votes (59 last week)

Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire 4

Last week – Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9) and New Hampshire (4)

Likely voting for Trump – 22 electoral votes (no change from last week)

Georgia (16) and Utah (6)

Last week – Georgia (16) and Utah (6)

THE CRYSTAL BALL 2016 ELECTORAL COLLEGE RATINGS (as of Oct. 31)

The Crystal Ball is produced by Larry Sabato and his team at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Overall – Clinton 293 electoral votes to 173 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 352 electoral votes to 173 for Trump

Up for grabs – 72 (13 last week)

Florida (29), Ohio (18), Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Utah (6), Maine (1) and Nebraska (1)

Last week – Iowa (6), Utah (6) and Maine (1)

Leaning for Clinton – 21 electoral votes (94 last week)

North Carolina (15) and Nevada (6)

Last week – Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4) and Nebraska (1)

Leaning for Trump – 16 (no change from last week)

Georgia (16)

Last week – Georgia (16)

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT POLLS-PLUS FORECAST (updated hourly)

FiveThirtyEight combines polling data with information about the economy and voting histories. It defines a state as a tossup if no candidate has a better than 60 percent chance of winning the state.

Overall – Clinton 272 electoral votes to 191 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 322 electoral votes to 179 for Trump

Up for grabs – 75 electoral votes (37 last week)

Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and Maine (1)

Last week – Ohio (18), Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Maine (1) and Nebraska (1)

Likely voting for Clinton – 13 electoral votes (50 last week)

Colorado (9) and New Hampshire (4)

Last week – Florida (29), North Carolina (15), and Nevada (6)

Likely voting for Trump – 21 electoral votes (19 last week)

Arizona (11), Utah (6), Alaska (3) and Nebraska (1)

Last week – Georgia (16) and Alaska (3)

THE FIX ELECTORAL COLLEGE RATINGS (as of Oct. 31)

The Fix is produced by the political team at The Washington Post.

Overall – Clinton 294 electoral votes to 180 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 317 electoral votes to 186 for Trump

Up for grabs – 64 electoral votes (35 last week)

Florida (29), Ohio (18), Arizona (11) and Utah (6)

Last week – Ohio (18), Arizona (11) and Nevada (6)

Likely voting for Clinton – 109 electoral votes (121 last week)

Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), New Hampshire (4) and Maine (1)

Last week – Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5) and New Hampshire (4)

Likely voting for Trump – 84 electoral votes (52 last week)

Texas (38), Georgia (16), Indiana (11), Missouri (10), Iowa (6) and Alaska (3)

Last week – Georgia (16), Indiana (11), Missouri (10), Iowa (6), Utah (6) and Alaska (3)

PREDICTWISE PRESIDENTIAL FORECAST (updates three times a day)

Overall – Clinton 293 electoral votes to 215 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 340 electoral votes to 179 for Trump

Up for grabs – 30 electoral votes (19 last week)

Defined as meaning no candidate has a 60 percent or higher chance of winning the state.

Florida (29) and Maine (1)

Last week – Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Maine (1) and Nebraska (1)

Leaning for Clinton – 21 electoral votes (33 last week)

Defined as meaning no candidate has more than a 79.9 percent chance of winning the state.

North Carolina (15) and Nevada (6)

Last week – Ohio (18) and North Carolina (15)

Leaning for Trump – 36 electoral votes (16 last week)

Ohio (18), Arizona (11), Iowa (6) and Nebraska (1)

Last week – Georgia (16)

REALCLEARPOLITICS

Overall – Clinton 263 electoral votes to 164 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 262 electoral votes to 126 for Trump

Up for grabs – 111 electoral votes (150 last week)

Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and Maine (1)

Last week – Texas (38), Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Minnesota (10), Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and Maine (1)

Leaning for Clinton – 94 electoral votes (77 last week)

Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Virginia (13), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Connecticut (7), Oregon (7), New Mexico (5), New Hampshire (4) and Maine (2)

Last week – Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Connecticut (7), Oregon (7), New Mexico (5), New Hampshire (4) and Maine (2)

Leaning for Trump – 74 electoral votes (36 last week)

Texas (38), Indiana (11), Missouri (10), South Carolina (9) and Utah (6)

Last week – Indiana (11), Missouri (10), South Carolina (9) and Utah (6)

ROTHENBERG & GONZALES RATINGS (as of Oct. 21)

Overall – Clinton 323 electoral votes to 191 for Trump

Up for grabs – 24 electoral votes (68 last week)

Ohio (18) and Iowa (6)

Likely voting for Clinton – 84 electoral votes (40 last week)

Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4)

Likely voting for Trump – 44 electoral votes (27 last week)

Georgia (16), Arizona (11), Indiana (11) and Utah (6)

UPSHOT PRESIDENTIAL FORECAST (updates three times a day)

The Upshot is produced by The New York Times, using polls, past election results and national polling.

Overall – Clinton 322 electoral votes to 191 for Trump

Last week – Clinton 323 electoral votes to 179 for Trump

Up for grabs – 25 electoral votes (36 last week)

Defined as meaning no candidate has a 60 percent or higher chance of winning the state.

Ohio (18), Iowa (6) and Nebraska (1)

Last week – Ohio (18), Arizona (11), Iowa (6) and Maine (1)

Leaning for Clinton – 35 electoral votes (22 last week)

Defined as meaning no candidate more than a 79.9 percent chance of winning the state.

Florida (29) and Nevada (6)

Last week – North Carolina (15), Nevada (6) and Nebraska (1)

Leaning for Trump – 34 electoral votes (16 last week)

Georgia (16), Arizona (11), Utah (6) and Maine (1)

Last week – Georgia (16)

 


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