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Nate Silver Election Challenge: October Update


A lot has happened since my September update—the second and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate; the New York Times released Trump’s 1995 tax returns, revealing a $916 million loss, which would have potentially allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for two decades; WikiLeaks released numerous hacked emails and speech transcripts which continue to paint Clinton as untrustworthy; the “Tape” was released, followed by a number of firsthand accusations from women which seemed to validate the tape; and the FBI reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Yes, that all happened in one month!!

So, how has all this impacted the election? Not much at all. In fact, I have not made any changes to my map since September (though some states have changed their shade of red or blue). This electoral vote count remains 322 for Clinton and 216 for Trump

At the time of my September update, Nate Silver and I differed on three states—Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida—all of which he had for Trump. I believe he must be plagiarizing my work, because he has since moved all three to Clinton and, for the first time since I started this challenge, our maps match exactly.

My current projections are as follows:

Clinton – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

Trump – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

You will, of course, notice that I’ve used a standard map of the United States throughout this challenge. However, one big criticism of such maps is that they do not accurately represent the electoral vote count which ultimately decides the election (and, of course, is based on the population of each state). Thus, states with large geographic areas, but comparatively small populations, take up an disproportionate amount of space. Montana, for example, has a population of just over 1 million, while the much geographically smaller state of Maryland has over 6 million. The result is that the map appears to be skewed toward the larger states of the Midwest, which tend to be red. To account for this, I’ve added a cartogram to my election visualization. A cartogram is a type of geographical map, which adjusts the size of geographical areas to account for some variable, in this case, the number of electoral votes, thereby providing a better visualization of the impact of each state.

My cartogram is actually based on the one Nate Silver uses on his website,, and I borrowed the brilliant work of Matt Chambers to create it (

Only eight more days until we wrap up this crazy election! I’ll update my projections again the evening of November 7, so check back next Monday.

You can interact with my election map on Tableau Public:!/vizhome/Election2016_7/Election2016.
You can view Silver’s “Polls Plus” projections on FiveThirtyEight:

Ken Flerlage, October 31, 2016

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