Nate Silver Admits that Trump Doesn’t Need 50%

For months, FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver insisted that Donald Trump couldn’t win the GOP nomination because he couldn’t reach 51% of the GOP vote. I pointed out on more than one occasion, both here and on Twitter, that this was not the case. I wouldn’t say that Silver blew it off. More likely, with me being a relative nobody and him being somewhat famous, he just plain didn’t notice.

Last week, however, Silver tacitly admitted what I’ve been saying all along: Trump doesn’t have to get 50% in order to win.

Trump’s lowest Minimum Winning Vote Share was in New Hampshire, where he could have gotten away with just 19.5 percent of the vote and still beat John Kasich.1 On Super Tuesday, Trump’s average Minimum Winning Vote Share was just 31.2 percent.

But as I said, it’s been increasing steadily. It was 37.4 percent on average in the five states to vote on March 15. And it’s averaged 40.3 percent in the three states to vote since then, including 42.6 percent in Wisconsin

While there will continue to be some variance from state to state, Trump is now usually going to have to be in the 40s to win.

The emphasis was added by me.

What Mr. Silver has not done, however, is acknowledge that he made this mistake and that it was incorrect. I find it rather ingenuous how he writes this article as if the low percentages Trump needs to win are something he was aware of all along. Either he wasn’t aware of it and was legitimately assuming that Trump needed 50% when he claimed it or he knew it all along and he was deliberately writing articles with an anti-Trump bias. The first situation is moderately embarrassing but easily corrected by simply noting his error. The latter would be outright journalistic malpractice.

For the record, I believe the answer is the former. As surprising as it might be, given that this sort of thing seems to be his specialty (and given that it’s the kind of thing people with Asperger’s are usually right on top of), I believe he just made a mistake.

Lest I come across as hypocritical, I hereby acknowledge that Trump can no longer win with just 30% of the vote. However, I also point out that even Mr. Silver above notes that back when I made that statement, it was correct.

What’s changed? Mainly that a lot of voting has already occurred. But the other huge thing is that the political establishment – on both sides of the aisle – has literally pulled out every trick they’ve got (dirty and otherwise) to try and stop Trump. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen, but they are clearly having an effect. Finally, Trump has also stumbled a bit on his own. That was always a possibility.

Even so, Trump doesn’t need 50% in order to win. He never has, and he still doesn’t.

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