Upshot has predicted a 76 percent chance for Hillary Clinton to become the first female President of the United States, and for the Democratic Party to retain control of the White House for another four years.
Combining nearly 300 state and national polls taken since April, with historical data, the data-driven analysis branch of the New York Times, has the former Secretary of State a decisive winner in fourteen of the most important states, and leading significantly in eight additional and important swing states, including Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
While she still has yet to formally attain the nomination of the Democratic Party, and with the GOP convention still in the process of nominating real estate businessman Donald Trump, Clinton leads Trump in a number of major national polls by between three and four points. This is down slightly from a few weeks ago when she led Trump by almost 7 points.
Historically speaking, however this lead may not amount to much. In 2004, the Kerry/Edwards ticket led by four points right up until November, when the incumbent, George W. Bush won, and in 1988, Michael Dukakis led Bush’s father by almost double Clinton’s current numbers. George H. W. Bush took the White House handily that year..
How effective has polling been in determining the outcome of presidential elections in recent history? In 1948, three different, highly regarded polling agencies so confidently swore that Republican Thomas Dewey would defeat the incumbent, Harry Truman, that many newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, went to press early on election night, famously declaring the wrong winner.
Polls didn’t really even matter at all in 1952, as the matchup was one of the most lopsided in modern history. The Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson, a well-respected but not very flamboyant candidate against Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe and a much-loved hero.
In 1960, Vice-President Richard Nixon narrowly lost to Senator John F. Kennedy. It was one of the closest campaigns in modern times, with Kennedy receiving 49.7 percent to Nixon’s 49.5 percent. Even the famous, first live telecast of a presidential debate had a different victor based on whether you listened to it on the radio, or watched it on television.
In 1980, at about this same time in the election cycle, Ronald Reagan led Jimmy Carter, with 58 percent in the polls. Even this did not indicate however, the absolute landslide victory that Reagan would experience. He went on to win 489 votes in the electoral college and almost 10 points more in the popular vote.
1992 was far closer, as it was a three way contest with a serious third party challenger. Bill Clinton did finally best both incumbent George H.W. Bush, and Reform Party nominee H. Ross Perot, But In June of that year, Perot actually led the polls with 39%, indicating how truly close the election would wind up being.
During the campaign of 2000 polls were very close in the final months and, with a plethora of third party candidates crowding the ballot, it was a toss up all the way to the end. The eventual winner George W. Bush wound up losing the popular vote and winning the electoral college by only ten votes.
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