Statistician Nate Silver said Donald Trump has a 10 percent chance of re-election, which should be “taken seriously” as Americans go to the polls on Tuesday.
The founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight said that “10 percent chances happen” and warned voters to “take everything for granted” as the presidential campaign drew to a close this morning.
Silver wrote for the website that a voting error of only 3 points could be the difference between a landslide victory for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and a “competitive” race.
He added, however, that even with an electoral error of this magnitude in Trump’s favor, Biden would “probably hold out” and win key states that Hillary Clinton had narrowly lost in 2016.
“Thus, while no normal-sized electoral error is remote from losing, Biden is a normal-sized electoral error remote from a chaotic victory that may not involve control by Congress,” Silver wrote.
He added that several factors that contributed to Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, including a number of undecided voters and an important development in the final stage of the campaign, “did not seem to exist” in the 2020 race.
“In other words, given everything that’s going on in the country – and given Biden’s popularity compared to Clinton – it should simply not be that difficult to imagine that a small number of voters would switch from Trump to Biden,” the statistician wrote. “In fact, the polls show that there are more Trump-to-Biden voters than Clinton-to-Trump voters.
But he said there was a possibility that Trump would be “able to overcome the factors” if the GOP turnout was “disproportionately high” while the Democratic turnout remained low, a result he considered unlikely based on the available data.
The statistician published his latest assessment of the 2020 elections two days after warning that Trump “could potentially benefit” from the fact that margins in key electoral college states are tighter than in the national vote.
Silver noted that Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania – which offers 20 votes in the electoral colleges – is “solid but not spectacular” and argued that the road to victory for the former vice president could not feel “particularly safe” if he did not carry the state.
“While many theories about why Trump can win (e.g., the one about the ‘shy’ Trump voters) are probably wrong, systematic electoral errors do occur, and it is difficult to predict them in advance or to identify the reasons for them,” the Five thirtyEight founder also wrote.
Washington Newsday approached FiveThirtyEight for further comments from Silver and will update this article with each response.