This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 15, 2015:
Canary jokes are back in fashion. Where does a 500-pound canary sit? Anywhere he wants. What does a 500-pound canary say? Here, Kitty, Kitty!
Nate Silver is a 500-pound canary. When he speaks, everyone listens. With pundits, prognosticators, and odds makers coming out of the woodwork to predict the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, Silver is calmly putting down their efforts, examining their claims and finding them wanting, and instead calling the election a 50/50 proposition.
Of course Hillary will win the Democrat Party’s nomination. There’s nobody else even close. But the election is another matter entirely, says Silver. He pooh-poohs such concerns as the “blue wall” at the Electoral College that allegedly gives the edge to Democrats (and hence to Hillary), making it easier for a Democrat to get elected. He disses historical evidence that three-term back-to-back Democrat presidencies are historically exceedingly rare. He dismisses Hillary’s claim that she’ll overwhelm Republicans with her budget of $1.2 billion.
What Silver looks at are just two factors: likeability and name-recognition. With those two foundational pieces in place, Silver was able to accomplish remarkable feats in 2008 and 2012: he correctly predicted the winner in 2008 in 49 out of the 50 states while correctly predicting the winner in all 35 Senate races. In 2012 he called the election in every state, and 31 of the 33 Senate races.
The same day that Hillary announced her candidacy Silver published his “Nobody Likes Anybody” graph, measuring popularity and name recognition for nearly all of the presidential wannabes. For instance, there’s New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie: he suffers both from lack of name recognition and likeability. Those who know him don’t like him. There’s Ben Carson. Those who know him like him, but hardly anyone knows him. There’s Joe Biden: people don’t know him but those who do don’t like him.
Finally, there’s Hillary: she’s almost as well-known as her former boss, President Obama, but half of those who know her don’t like her. And this puts the odds makers in a twit.
Oddschecker.com tracks 19 bookies, and all 19 of them – no exceptions – are predicting Hillary will win going away. There’s Paddy Power, Ireland’s largest bookmaker, where more than 5,000 bets have already been placed on the 2016 election outcome: Hillary first, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio way in the back.
Even Republican politicos with campaign experience are giving Hillary the nod. One threw in the towel two years ago: Myra Adams, who served on George W. Bush’s “creative team” in 2004 and then on John McCain’s ad council in 2008. Back in June, 2013, she said it’s all over:
Sorry, folks, this race is over … from this vantage point, all signs point to Hillary Clinton coasting to the Democrat Party nomination and [then] winning the White House.
She gave sixteen reasons why, including the biased media that are just waiting to pump up the “Madame President” theme, helped along with liberals and propagandists in Hollywood and on social networks:
You will hear the “triumph of the ’60s feminist movement.” You will hear that you will be “voting to make history.” And you will hear that your vote will be used as a “hammer to break through the glass ceiling of the Oval Office”….
[Just as] Obama was hailed as the messiah … Hillary will be the queen ready to ascend to her royal throne.
In addition, Hillary deserves it. She calls this “groupthink,” where everyone in the mainstream media buys into, and promotes, the same meme: poor Hillary, she’s been through so much, losing in 2008 to an unknown Senator, dealing with a philandering husband who got impeached, poor dear, and then being used as a foil by Obama during her reign as Secretary of State. But she’s got guts: she ran for the Senate in New York and, lo and behold, came out a victor. So she’s got what it takes to do it again. So says the meme.
Adams says that Hillary has a three-year head start over whomever the Republican Party finally nominates after all the resources have been expended and the damage inflicted. All of which makes it easier for Hillary to attack the survivor, much like Siamese fighting fish. When two males duke it out (so to speak), only one survives. But he is so weak that he can offer no resistance to a third waiting in the wings.
Adams claims that the “blue wall” in the Electoral College gives the advantage to Democrats thanks to demographic changes and shifts in voting patterns. There’s her Ready for Hillary PAC, which is already registering 50,000 Hispanics every month as they turn 18. She has her husband, now rehabilitated, who will be her greatest asset:
[Hillary’s] leaner, non-meat-eating, more highly evolved, totally rebranded, well-respected, charitable husband (of Clinton Global Initiative fame) will be one of Hillary’s greatest assets on the campaign trail.
Her age – she’s 67, meaning that, if elected, she’ll turn 70 in her first term – won’t matter to an electorate which itself is getting older, claiming in any event that “70 is the new 55.”
Her baggage won’t matter, says Adams. Forget trying to dredge up ancient history like Whitewater, Vince Foster, Travelgate, Filegate, the Rose Law Firm, and cattle futures. Even Benghazi will be long forgotten by November 2016. Why, that unhappy event occurred four years earlier. Hillary, according to Adams, is counting on the electorate’s bad memory to push her into the White House.
And the economy is finally improving, which ought to provide the final thrust through the tape in November, 2016.
None of this matters, says Silver. It’s all about likeability and name-recognition. Hillary has half the equation. She needs to do some serious work on the other half.
And then there’s the wildcard: Hillary’s health. On December 30, 2013 Hillary collapsed in her office and suffered a concussion. She was taken by ambulance to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she was diagnosed with a “right transverse venous thrombosis” – in layman’s language, a blood clot in her brain. Doctors warned that “She has to be carefully monitored for the rest of her life.” The reason? Said a cardiac specialist: “The unique thing about clotting in the brain is that it could have transformed into a stroke.” And clots are especially a threat while flying, which may perhaps have something to do with Hillary’s decision to travel by car around the country as she kicks off her campaign.
She had a previous similar fainting spell back in 2005 during a speech in Buffalo, New York, and fainted again while boarding a plane in Yemen in 2009. That time she fell and broke her elbow.
The election is 18 months away, and attempts to pick a winner at this early stage of the game will surely fail. But given Silver’s track record, his analysis that it will be a horse race with a photo finish is likely to be spot on.
Business Insider: Here are the odds of who will win in 2016
Oddschecker.com: 2016 US Presidential Election Betting Odds
The Daily Beast: 16 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Will Win 2016
Nate Silver: Clinton Begins The 2016 Campaign, And It’s A Toss-up