The "experts" aren't quite as certain of a Clinton presidency this weekend

Are the expert election prognosticators seeing some signs in the chicken entrails which tell them that Donald Trump actually has a chance of being elected? I mean, only three weeks ago Charlie Cook was literally saying that the race was over. Clinton had not only already won, but she was probably going to have a landslide of historic proportions. But now, in the final 48 hours, some folks are changing their tune… at least a bit. (Washington Post)

With hours until Election Day, the wildest U.S. presidential race in memory has grown more competitive in most of the battleground states, although Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continues to hold a broader path to victory than Republican Donald Trump.

The political map suggests that Clinton can lose several key states long assumed to be in her column and still reach the 270 electoral votes she needs to win.

Trump, meanwhile, has a new reason for optimism, as a growing number of states appear potentially within his grasp. But to win, he would have to take nearly all of them.

Yes, that’s still a dismal forecast for Trump, but it’s risen considerably above the Dumb and Dumber level of, so you’re telling me there’s a chance. That analysis came from Karen Tumulty at the Post, but she’s not the only one. Over at The Hill, Jonathan Easley sees a number of people who were already writing Trump’s political obituary setting their pens aside for a little while.

The gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continues to narrow as the candidates jet around the country in the final frenzy before Election Day…

Less than a month ago, it was a foregone conclusion among many election modelers and forecasters that Clinton was on pace for a resounding Electoral College victory.

Now, those same forecasters are hedging their bets, acknowledging there is a greater likelihood that Trump could pull off a Nov. 8 shocker…

The model run by data guru Nate Silver at gives Clinton a 65 percent chance of winning and Trump a 35 percent chance. That’s down from Clinton’s high – achieved less than three weeks ago, on Oct. 17 – when she had an 88 percent chance of victory, compared to only 12 percent for Trump.

To be honest, 35% isn’t that great of a bet, but it’s a darned site better than 12. But with all of these numbers flying around, how are we supposed to know and who do you listen to? I suppose you could judge by the ABC tracking poll, right? Except that this is the survey which had Clinton plus twelve and then Trump plus one and now Clinton plus five all in the space of a week. C’mon, man… Is there anyone out there being paid to commit acts of journalism who honestly thinks that thirteen percent of the voting population (which would be 16.8 million people based on the 2012 turnout) are shifting back and forth between Clinton and Trump like a herd of deranged sheep running away from the sound of a truck backfiring?

Back in early November of 2012 I was on Twitter making one of my usual jokes about what “President Romney” would be doing in January. One of my more liberal contacts immediately sent me a DM asking if I honestly thought Romney would win. I replied with something I rarely suggested in public (because you don’t want to sink the troops’ spirits). I told him that Obama was probably going to win with close to 300 electoral votes and that was without Florida. If he asked me that question today I would honestly say that I have no idea.

Both history and basic statistical analysis still give Clinton the better chance here. But momentum is the often talked about, yet impossible to quantify factor which decides all close elections. Things have been moving Trump’s way for at least the past week. The only question is if that momentum has stopped, reversed, or will continue through Tuesday night. Trump is still saying he’s going to win Pennsylvania (which would have changed the landscape of the electoral map massively) but I honestly don’t see it happening. He’s close the gap to single digits an an admirable fashion, but the Keystone State remains Lucy and the Football for Republicans as far as I’m concerned.

Without Pennsylvania, Trump will have to nail down Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida as well as one of Maine’s districts and at least 4 EV out of Nebraska. That gets him to 265 and the map looks like this:

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We’re hearing a lot of noise about Wisconsin this week, but let’s just say that it remains something of a long shot. If Hillary takes it, even Trump getting new Hampshire leaves us at a 269-269 tie and the uncharted territory of having the House pick the President and the Senate pick the Vice President. (It also leaves us with the specter of even a single bad faith elector handing the White House to somebody who didn’t win it on their own.) Without Wisconsin, where is Trump’s path to 270 and a clean win? Am I missing a state here? Okay… if Trump gets all five of Nebraska’s electoral votes, that puts him over the finish line. Romney did it in 2012 so it’s obviously possible, but at least one of those votes is looking a lot more shaky this year.

So is it possible? Yes. But I just listed nine states, all of which are in margin of error territory at least. Trump could, very realistically, win any one of them. But can he go nine for nine? He’d better if he wants to win this thing and even then it’s going to be on a razor thin margin. Of course, if we get a massive shock out of Wisconsin or Pennsylvania then the entire map shifts in his favor and he can afford to drop some of the nine, but I’m still not counting on either of them.

Donald Trump rally