Advertising Week

Nine Hot Election Takes From Nate Silver's Advertising Week Panel

Trump, Party Nominations and Which Numbers Really Matter

By Published on .

There's more than a year before the next presidential election, but that's no reason the statistics and politics wonks at FiveThirtyEight can't start making calls. We've got nine insights from Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver, politics editor Micah Cohen and senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten, issued during an Advertising Week panel at Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square.

1. Joe Biden Is a Party Guy

The vice president would only enter the election if it would help his party in some way, Mr. Enten said. "At the end of the day, he's probably gonna do what's best for the Democrats," Mr. Silver said, agreeing that Mr. Biden would declare his candicacy for president only if Hillary Clinton were significantly weakened. "For Biden to go in would is basically a no-confidence vote for Clinton," he said.

2. FiveThirtyEight Is Hot on Marco Rubio

"We think he could be seen as a more likeable candidate," Mr. Enten said, adding that he's Hispanic, he won a swing state, and his numbers are still pretty good with swing voters. "That's gonna be something to watch: Who has the best general-election numbers going into the primaries?"

3. How Seriously Should We Take Trump?

"No one who so openly defies his party and is so openly detested by his party establishment has won the nomination that is the party's to bestow," Mr. Silver said. On top of that, there's evidence that Mr. Trump is declining in the polls, while news stories about him aren't getting as many clicks, Mr. Silver added.

"People are interested in a show, politics as reality TV," Mr. Enten said. "But when it gets down to actual voting, we've seen shows tend to decline and they tend to go no where."

4. Viable Republican Outsiders

Mr. Enten said there are more likeable candidates than Trump, including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina, who Mr. Silver called a "stealth establishment" candidate. She's considered an outsider because she hasn't held office before, he said, but she ran for a U.S. Senate seat from California as an establishment-backed Republican and was a campaign surrogate for both Mitt Romney and John McCain.

4. Email No Biggie in Nomination Fight

Mr. Enten said while the email scandal has somewhat affected Ms. Clinton's standing with the general public, her standing among Democrats has been affected significantly less, and she still leads in national polls and in Iowa. Perhaps most importantly, she has the party behind her and most of the endorsements -- 95% of those issued so far. The party decides, Mr. Enten said, so someone with the support of elected officials in D.C., governors, and state and party chairs will probably win the nomination. Mr. Silver added that when there's an absence of election news and debates, Ms. Clinton endures a perpetual cycle of negative coverage that fills the void.

5. The Media Is Focusing on Polls Too Much, Too Early

Mr. Silver said he's never seen interest in polls occur so early before, adding that they don't mean anything much at this point.

6. Voter Recall Matters Most in the End

Political advertising has a pretty short shelf life, Mr. Silver said, so a smart strategy for the general election is to wait until the end to advertise.

7. Does Being Good-Looking Help You Win?

Mr. Silver said no. Mr. Enten said there are studies that say more "grown-up" or distinguished looking candidates might have an advantage.

8. Election 2016: A Close Call

President Obama's legacy will cast a shadow on the election, Mr. Silver said, adding that a president's approval ratings, the economy and world problems in general historically point to a close election.

Most Popular