By MICHAEL BARBARO
The math is grim for Donald J. Trump: His rival, Hillary Clinton, has a 90 percent chance of winning the election, as of Monday afternoon.
Wait, sorry — make that 91 percent, as of Monday night. It just keeps getting worse for him.
A few weeks ago, the race seemed competitive. So how did the odds turn so convincingly against Mr. Trump? Which voters broke Mrs. Clinton’s way? And why?
And is this race effectively over, statistically speaking?
In the latest episode of The Run-Up, we talk numbers with Nate Cohn, a reporter for The Upshot and our most trusted translator of polls.
In the last month, there have been so many factors that could potentially change a voter’s mind, but Mr. Cohn sees in the polling a definitive moment when things shifted: “The clear marker of change was the first debate,” he tells me.
Normally a bump after a debate is fleeting, but in this case it looks different, Mr. Cohn says. “We’ll never really know what would have happened if there hadn’t been all of these reinforcing events after the debate. After the debate, Hillary gets this bump, and then Donald Trump spends the next week bashing Alicia Machado. Then these tapes come out. Then he has another tough debate performance. So maybe that bounce could have been ephemeral, if the news had been different. Imagine that marginal Hillary voter, if the only thing they’d heard over the last two weeks was about WikiLeaks, would they ever turn back to being undecided?”
I ask Mr. Cohn to describe the profile of the undecided voter in this election. “Usually there’s this caricature of some hockey mom who lives in the suburbs and is going to decide the election on her way to soccer practice or something. I don’t think that that caricature holds up this year,” he tells me. “The pool of undecided voters is pretty diverse. It includes basically every voting bloc. The one thing they have in common is that they really don’t like either candidate.”
We also talk with two seasoned pollsters from each party — Geoff Garin, a Democrat, and Whit Ayres, a Republican — about whether Mr. Trump has any real chance of recovering at this late stage.
“It looks like Donald Trump isn’t even trying to win,” Mr. Garin says. “He’s creating a rationale for why he’s going to lose.”
Finally, we speak to a longtime researcher of polling psychology, Kyle Dropp, about a phenomenon that could be Mr. Trump’s last hope: shy voters who are reluctant to tell pollsters for whom they really plan to vote.
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