Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday political potpourri for a slow-starting Economic news week


 - by New Deal democrat

It’s a very slow most-of-the-week for economic data. Except for house prices, nothing much gets reported until Thursday, when a slew of data (personal income, spending, ISM manufacturing, construction, and jobless claims) all gets reported at once. And then Friday is the last jobs report before the election.

I’ll update the Coronavirus dashboard tomorrow or Wednesday. In the meantime, here’s a few random notes for your Monday morning.

1. YouGov has now premiered their own election model, which gives Biden 351 Electoral votes as the median forecast. The model does not give probabilities.

2. G. Elliott Morris makes an important point: the Trump tax returns story probably won’t change many minds, but it will set the narrative for another week before the election - and we are now only 5 weeks away. And every day that Trump fails to make up ground on Biden is another day making it more and more difficult.

3. Nate Silver concedes the obvious: you don’t need a fancy algorithm to conclude that as of now Trump is on track to lose the popular vote. And with Biden at 50% in the national polls, it’s almost impossible for Trump to make that up.

4. Current odds, according to 538, of the Democratic candidate winning a particular State’s Senate race, in decreasing order:

AZ - 77%
CO - 72%
NC - 64%
ME - 59%
IA - 47%
MT - 34%
GA - 24% (Ossoff)
SC - 20%
KS - 20%
AK - 14%
TX - 13%

Since I think Nate plays it too safe in his ratings, my preference is to give to the races that are closest to 50% probability, with a bias to those below.

5. As usual, ALL POLLING IS REALLY JUST NOWCASTS, NOT FORECASTS. The average deviation between polling now and the actual Presidential vote is about 2.2%. Further, because voters *react* to the polling (see, 2016, “Hillary has it in the bag”), the more people trust the polls, the more inaccurate they can be!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: not a good week for Biden


 - by New Deal democrat

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

Let’s begin with Trump’s approval. Disapproval remains absolutely steady at 52.7% for the third week in a row, while approval improved very slightly (by +0.3%), and remains right in its normal range for the past 3 1/2 years: 

There is no indication that either Trump’s “law and order” pitch, or the replacement of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have moved the needle in any significant way in the past 3 weeks.

Here is this week’s updated map through September 26. To refresh, here is how  it works:

- States where the race is closer than 3% are shown as toss-ups.
- States where the range is between 3% to 5% are light colors.
- States where the range is between 5% and 10% are medium colors.
- States where the candidate is leading by 10% plus are dark colors.

There were 8 changes this week, most of them adverse to Biden. While Nevada improved to “likely Biden,” Louisiana improved from “solid” to “likely GOP,” and  Alabama, on a sole small poll improved from “solid” to “lean GOP,” the rest of the moves were all significant, and all downward. Most notably, Florida declined to “toss-up” (only 45 days ago having been “likely Biden”), and Pennsylvania declined to “lean Biden.” Virginia declined from “solid” to “likely Biden,” and Arizona and New Hampshire declined from “likely Biden” to “lean Biden.”

Biden’s “solid” plus “likely” Electoral College votes have now declined from their peak of  302 eight weeks ago to 255 this week. This is the very first time that this number has been under 270.

Additionally, I am somewhat concerned that outside of Wisconsin and Minnesota, Biden’s support is under 50%, and only above 49% in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. That being said, if Biden wins those 5 States, he is going to win the election.

I have been expecting some incremental improvement in Trump’s position as voters who were leaning GOP “come home,” and I suspect this is mainly what we are seeing now. In the meantime, I believe the public’s perception of both the economy and Trump’s handling of the pandemic have congealed. The last significant economic report prior to the election, the September jobs report, will be released this Friday. Right now October looks like the final right-wing takeover of the Supreme Court will be front and center, along with Trump’s refusal to commit to an orderly transition if he loses.

Turing to the Senate, there has only been 1 changes this week, as an old poll in MIssissippi dropped out, and the sole remaining poll causes that race to be changed from “lean GOP” to toss-up:

At current polling, if Democrats win all those seats rated “solid” and “likely,” they will have 50 Senate seats; and have improved from 55 to 57 in the past two weeks if they were to win all of the “toss-ups.” They will have 58 seats if they were to capture the “lean GOP” seat in Georgia. A shift to Democratic control of the Senate continues to look even more likely.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Weekly Indicators for September 21 - 25 at Seeking Alpha


 - by New Deal democrat

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

While the underlying economic data still looks positive, the possibility for disruption based on a full-blown Consitutional Crisis following the election can no longer be overlooked.

As usual, clicking over and reading should bring you right up to the moment about the economy, and reward me a little bit for the work I do putting this together.

Friday, September 25, 2020

New home sales confirm housing surge


 - by New Deal democrat

Yesterday new home sales were reported at a 10 year+ high, as were existing home sales earlier in the week.

This adds to the evidence that the housing surge is real, with positive knock-on effects for the economy over the next 12 to 18 months, once the pandemic is contained.

This post is up at Seeking Alpha. As usual, clicking over and reading should be educational for you, and it rewards me a little bit for my work.

Demographics, full-spectrum State by State polling reports for the Presidential election


 - by New Deal democrat

A couple of interesting items were reported yesterday in terms of the actual *election* in the Presidential election.

First of all, Survey Monkey reported 50 individual polls for each and every State. Nate Silver rates them D-, so take with lots of grains of salt, but the fact remains that these polls are filling in a number of holes in individual State polling.

The results were largely in line with prior polling for the States where they have been done, but there were a few surprises:

In addition a to Florida and North Carolina, Biden is reported as leading in both Ohio and Georgia.

Arizona is reported as tied (a poor result for Biden), but on the other hand so are South Carolina and Missouri.

Finally, Trump is reported as leading in Nevada, as well as swing States Iowa and Texas.

Like I already said, take with numerous grains of salt, but I think this polling highlights Arizona and Nevada as being not “in the bag” for Biden. On the other hand, it reinforces other polling showing the upper Midwest as a “blue wall” again.

Secondly, the Cook Political Report issued a “2020 Demographic Swingometer” showing graphically what would happen if you were to take the exact demographic breakdown in the 2016 Presidential vote, and adjust it for changes in those demographics over the last 4 years (e.g., a slight increase in Minority population, and a slight increase in the number of college educated voters).

Here’s the graph:

To cut to the chase, if the vote in November were to break down exactly as the Presidential vote did in 2016, Biden would win with 307 Electoral votes.

Everybody is well aware of how the complacency that “Hillary has this in the bag” killed her in 2016. I doubt anybody will make the same mistake this year. Nevertheless, these two reports are further grounds for guarded optimism.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Initial jobless claims rise slightly, while continuing claims decline - both at still awful levels


 - by New Deal democrat

This morning’s jobless claims report indicated that the trend of “less worse” news is at best continuing at a snail’s pace, and at levels worse than the worst weekly levels of the Great Recession.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims rose by 28,527 to 824,542. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims rose by 4,000 to 870,000, slightly above their revised “best” reading of 866,000. The 4 week moving average, however, declined by 35,250 to a new pandemic low of 913,500:

Continuing claims declined both on a non-adjusted basis (by 176,510 to 12,264,351, and on a seasonally adjusted basis by 167,000 to 12,580,000, both new pandemic lows:

This remains almost exactly half of their worst levels at the beginning of May, and more than 4 million higher than the worst level of continuing claims during the Great Recession.

There has been only very slow downward movement in new jobless claims over the past seven weeks. As a result, the pandemic shock recession is gradually turning into something much more chronic at very depressed levels.