HUFFPOLLSTER: Early Estimates Show Donald Trump Losing Against Hillary Clinton

Trump defied expectations to become the presumptive nominee. Can he do it again?

Early presidential forecasts strongly favor the Democrats. Bernie Sanders pulled off a surprise victory in Indiana. And Americans think the government should be more involved in fighting opioid addiction. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

THE TABLE IS SET FOR A DONALD TRUMP VS. HILLARY CLINTON GENERAL ELECTION - HuffPollster: "Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee with Tuesday’s win in Indiana and the departure of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Assuming Hillary Clinton sews up the Democratic nomination, we can turn to the general election….If the general election was tomorrow, Trump would get trumped. HuffPost Pollster’s polling average shows him losing to Clinton, 47 percent to 40 percent, with 9 percent undecided….Polls on the general election are widely regarded as unreliable until about April or May of the election year — at which point they become about halfway reliable….Now we have a presumptive nominee and an assumed nominee. That will change how people answer these polls — the matchup isn’t hypothetical anymore. It’s real….As it stands now, in early May, Clinton looks strong. But the election isn’t in early May....How will voters react? We’ll know when the next batch of polls start rolling in." [HuffPost

Electoral college estimates show a substantial Democratic advantage - An early analysis of the race gives Clinton the advantage, according to political forecaster Larry Sabato. Sabato estimates 347 electoral votes will go to the Democratic nominee and 191 to the Republican nominee. He rates 190 electoral votes as safely Democratic, 57 as likely Democratic and 100 as leaning for the party. He estimates 142 electoral votes as safely Republican, 48 as likely Republican and 142 as leaning for the party. For now, based on estimates last updated on March 31st, Clinton would sweep in a general election, but there is room for change as the election moves forward. [Center for Politics

HOW TRUMP PULLED IT OFF - HuffPollster, with Nick Baumann: "Just a few months ago, Trump’s nomination seemed impossible to just about everyone. (There were a few exceptions.) Surely, many pundits — and some GOP candidates — argued, there was a ceiling to his support. The Republican establishment would coalesce around a single anti-Trump candidate instead. But no such alternative emerged. The orange-haired demagogue has held an uninterrupted and increasing lead in HuffPollster’s national polling average since he passed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in July 2015. Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee in the last presidential election, lost the lead in national polls four times over a similar period in 2011 and 2012….Trump began the race with near-universal name recognition — none of the other candidates were even close…. The media gave Trump some $2 billion worth of free media coverage. Trump rose in the polls….Barring a miracle, he’ll be the GOP nominee. Then Trump’s real work will begin. Barely over one-third of Americans view him positively, putting him on track to become the most-hated major party nominee in modern history….In the general election, Trump will face Hillary Clinton, who is almost certain to have a unified Democratic Party behind her….There’s no reason to believe he should win. But he just did." [HuffPost]

Trump jumped through a ‘ceiling’ of support in mid-April - Nate Silver: "Until just a few weeks ago, Trump’s position had stagnated in national polls and in state-by-state results; before New York on April 19, he’d yet to win a majority in any state, lending credence to the idea that he might have a 'ceiling' (albeit a higher ceiling than some originally expected) on his support. From New York onward, however, Trump has won a majority in every state, including some, such as Indiana and Maryland, that didn’t seem especially favorable for him demographically. If you plot the share of the vote Trump received in each state on a graph, it resembles a step function with a sudden lunge upward after Wisconsin, rather than a smooth upward projection. What happened after Wisconsin? My theory as of a couple weeks ago — and having not gotten so many other things about the Republican race right, I’m sticking to it — is that Republican voters were swayed by Trump’s arguments that the candidate with the most votes and delegates should be the nominee." [538]

SANDERS WINS IN INDIANA, DEFYING POLLS - Public polling indicated that Hillary Clinton was leading in Indiana’s Democratic primary. HuffPost Pollster’s estimate put the former secretary of state about 7 points ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Instead, Sanders won the state by about 5 points. The miss calls to mind a similar situation in neighboring Michigan, which Sanders also won despite polls giving Clinton a strong lead.

Indiana was favorable Sanders territory - Samantha Lachman: “Indiana’s primary was favorable to Sanders in a number of ways. The state holds an open primary, which means voters unaffiliated with either party could participate. Sanders has struggled in closed primaries, where only registered Democrats could cast a ballot. Indiana is also a predominately white state, which may have helped Sanders, since Clinton has dominated with nonwhite voters in previous contests….Sanders spent nearly $2 million on advertisements in Indiana, compared with nothing by Clinton.” [HuffPost]

Young liberals turned out in higher-than-expected numbers - ABC News analysis desk: “Preliminary exit poll results from Indiana’s Democratic primary show a contest with turnout that’s higher than usual this year among liberals (notably strong liberals), young voters, whites and those focused on a candidate who’s honest or cares about people like them – all some of Bernie Sanders’ better groups to date….Nearly half of voters in preliminary exit poll results – 47 percent – were age 45 or younger, a new high this year in a strong group for Sanders. (The previous record was 45 percent in Michigan, an unexpected Sanders win.) Further, whites, another better group for Sanders, accounted for three-quarters of voters, compared with their typical six in 10 in previous races this year. Combining these groups, whites younger than 45 accounted for a third of Indiana voters, well over their customary 22 percent on average in previous primaries, and they backed Sanders by a vast 78-22 percent.” [ABC]

AMERICANS THINK THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO MORE ABOUT OPIOID ADDICTION - Jason Cherkis: “Most Americans say federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to combat the opioid epidemic, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation poll. More than 60 percent of those surveyed believe that government needs to do more to address the crisis that has seen overdose death rates soar across the country. Congress has held several hearings on the opioid epidemic. But no piece of substantial legislation has passed both chambers and made it to the president’s desk to sign into law….There’s a reason why Americans are angry with the government inaction. More than four in 10 Americans know someone who has been addicted to opioids, the Kaiser report found. And of those surveyed, 58 percent said access to care is a major problem.” [HuffPost]

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WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Tobias Konitzer and David Rothschild explain the limitations of predicting general election results. [WashPost] 

-Dara Lind thinks Trump's success is explained by Republicans' shift on immigration reform. [Vox]

-Monmouth University Pollster Patrick Murray explains why Cruz was doomed by becoming the ‘establishment candidate’ [Monmouth]  

-A poll conducted prior to Trump's victory in Indiana and Ted Cruz's concession shows that not all Cruz voters support Trump. [Morning Consult

-Andre Tartar and Ben Brody look at how polls and prediction markets have performed so far. [Bloomberg]

-Anti-Trump forces spent a lot of money in Indiana and still lost. [NBC]