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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The State of the Race - The Liberal Perspective

Jefrey Pollock, Founding Partner and President of Global Strategy Group
New York, NY
November 7, 2016

Date: 11/07/2016 Description: The State of the Race - The Liberal Perspective: a Special Briefing by Jefrey Pollock, Founding Partner and President of Global Strategy Group - State Dept ImageNEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR

MR POLLOCK: (In progress) -- given the way Latinos in public opinion polls are voting for her. And so The Upshot, the New York Times site, gives about a two-point margin of victory predicted to Hillary, but others call it a pure toss-up. And in fact, there are a plenty of websites that call Florida for the Republicans right now. And so there is no path to victory for Donald Trump that doesn’t involve winning at least a couple of these large states like Florida, North Carolina, or Pennsylvania.

Now, the four at the bottom are the tougher ones for the campaign. Ohio, where all the polls have shown the race to be tight but Hillary to be slightly behind in the last couple of polls; in Iowa the same thing; and then Georgia and Arizona – two states that the Democrats thought maybe potential to play in this cycle, and Donald Trump seemed to put them into play, most of the data shows that the numbers are a little bit far behind but still within a reasonable consideration of looking at on election night.

Okay. So we move from the presidential to the Senate and the House races. So right now, the Democrats have about a 3 percent edge on something called the generic congressional ballot. What this is is in national polls we ask people: If the election were held today, who would you vote for, the Democrat or the Republican, for Congress? And so there are no names given there; it’s just a read of partisanship, basically – how are you feeling about which party you would vote for in terms of your congressional election. And right now, the Democrats have about a three-point lead. That’s a relatively narrow lead. And so for Democrats who are looking at sort of a wave or would love to have a wave election – meaning they can win a ton of seats – this points to a more narrow likelihood of victory. And so the congressional organizations and the senatorial organizations have been doing everything they can to put individual races in place. But the national environment is still a narrow one; it is not an overwhelming one. And that’s because of the massive partisanship that exists in the United States today where people are pushed to their respective partisan sides in a dramatic fashion.

So from a United States Senate perspective, right now The Upshot – the Times’ site – gives the Democrats about a 56 percent chance of taking back the United States Senate. And so there are individual races, and the individuals races when you go through – so these models back in October predicted that the Democrats would take the Senate by a 70 percent margin. And so clearly over the last number of weeks, these things have tightened tremendously.

And so on the individual states, the Democrats are clearly poised to make gains. I do believe today – if you ask me – I still believe that the Democrats will take back the Senate. The question is: How many? And so there are states like Illinois where the Democrats are almost assured of a takeover, of beating Mark Kirk; Colorado, which is a key – meaning it’s already Michael Bennet, the Democrat; Wisconsin where the Democrats are favored to beat an incumbent Republican; Pennsylvania where all of the most recent polls by and large have the Democratic candidate Katy McGinty beating Pat Toomey; and the same in Nevada where most of the most recent polls have Joe Heck, the Republican, losing to Catherine Cortez Masto. Now, some of these are pick-ups, some of these are switches.

The couple that are in the middle right now are New Hampshire, where the data has really been on both sides. I can show you polls that show Maggie Hassan winning. I can show you polls that show Kelly Ayotte winning and keeping her seat. Indiana, where Evan Bayh came in, the Democrats really didn’t have a shot, and Evan Bayh came in and now the race there has completely tightened. The flip side is Missouri where the Democrats put an amazing candidate up – a guy named Jason Kander – who now has a shot of winning that race and many of the polls show the race tight if not even better. North Carolina where, again, the most recent polls have the race basically tied. And Florida where the race was seen – Marco Rubio, the candidate, Patrick Murphy, the Democrat – the Democrats were seen as down. But actually, in all of the most recent polling, if you look at it by and large, many of the most recent polls have the race basically a two point or less margin. So all of these races seem to be incredibly tight going into Election Day.

I’m happy to take questions about this presentation or anything as it relates to the presidential race, Senate races, or the congressional races. And I think as Daphne said, we want to wait for – folks, if you have a question, raise your hand, they’ll bring the microphone around, and we will go from there. There is the microphone being waved.

MODERATOR: This event is being transcribed, so you can’t speak unless you have a mike. And please state your name and organization.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Robert Poredos, part of the Slovenian Press Agency. You talked the public polls, right?


QUESTION: I don’t know how much can you divulge or not about the private polls that the campaign are making. But can you at least say if they defer?

MR POLLOCK: Yeah. Well, what I can tell you – the question was about the private polls versus the public. So obviously, I can’t reveal what exactly the private polls say since those are our clients. But what I can say is that the private polls – I can say two things: Number one, the public polls – in many of the public polls in the states, as I’m sure you’ve followed over the last couple weeks, have gone like this, right, these dramatic swings. The private polling has not, and that’s an important thing. So when all of the – when many of the polls were sort of swinging wildly, if you…


…that I’m confident on both sides, Republican and Democrat. We did not see the same kind of swings in those states.

Now, also remember that most of us who are doing private clients – meaning these races – we don’t really – and I mean this – we don’t care about the national polls, right. We only care about the ten swing states. So many of us, for example, we’re not even doing polling in places like New York and Texas, which don’t matter from a presidential perspective because we know how they’re going to vote. So that’s another piece of – is that we’re sort of religiously looking at these 10, 12 swing states that we know are going to be in play. And there in particular we did not see the kind of fluctuation, because there was so much information that millions of dollars and lots of information that had already been given to the voters in these states. And so as I said, they were pushed to their partisan sides already. So we did not see those kind of fluctuations.

Can I tell you that all the private polls matched exactly? No. As I said, if you look at the public polls, a lot of them have Florida in the Republican column; the private polls I think are, as an example – I could pick others, but as an example, have it far more tilting and maybe even Democratic. The other thing is not only did the public polls – this thing about the early vote, and depending on your country, this early vote thing is this weird thing, right, where people can vote early. Well, that sounds cool to me; I’d love to vote early. I knew who I was voting for a year ago. But only in certain states do we have this. And so in a state like Nevada, Nevada’s a really interesting state. Sixty percent of all voters have cast their vote. They’re done. Sixty percent of the vote is already in.

And so there have been public polls of the people who have voted, but there has also been private data analytics that have looked at the likelihood of who those people have voted for. And those models, the analytic models, right now predict Hillary to have five, six, seven-point lead among that group of folks. So that means that Donald Trump, to win Nevada, for example, needs a massive win out of the 40 percent who show up on Election Day. Could that happen? Sure. I’m not saying it can’t, but those early votes give us a really interesting thing.

So all the articles that you are reading about with the early vote, what is interesting to me is looking at the data behind it, the science. And of course we’re going to know much more after tomorrow when we can really look at it, but there are some intriguing trends – in particular the Hispanic trends – that are very clearly perilous for Donald Trump, with this massive increase in Latinos.

Thank you, good question.

QUESTION: Deepak Arora, diplomatic and political editor with The Tribune Online, New Delhi, India.


QUESTION: You see once this FBI statement came –


QUESTION: -- those nine days were tough for Hillary Clinton, and her ratings dramatically went down.

MR POLLOCK: Slid, yes.

QUESTION: Now you have only two days. What kind of swing do you expect from this after you got a clean slate now?

MR POLLOCK: Yeah. It’s a good question about the swing in the – now that Hillary has been – the FBI has once again said that she is clean. And so the question is: What’s the upswing?

I’m going to answer it two ways. Number one is I don’t believe there was a massive downturn even in the aftermath. In fact, what most of the private pollsters will tell you is that we saw the polls tightening before Mr. Comey said anything the first time – meaning a couple weeks ago. So the data was already closing to sort of normal partisanship.

What has happened in this campaign is every time there’s been sort of a crazy incident, big incident – maybe crazy’s the wrong word, but in this campaign, it’s been crazy. But some sort of massive incident, such as the tape about Donald Trump that came out. And there was a big swing in the polls. There’s a – there are a number of great articles to read, and I encourage you to look at all the articles about response bias. Because what we seem to be seeing is during those periods of tumult, of something chaotic, what actually may have been happening – I’m not saying it didn’t* – but what may have happening is that, for example, after the Comey letter, Democrats were less likely to take polls. And after the video about Trump, Republicans were less likely to take polls. And that if you factor out that noise, that in fact most of the stuff has been very consistent.

And the end of this election we’re also going to have a lot of data that looks at the difference in types of polling, because you have the online polls versus the phone polls. The truth is that the online polls – and some of them I . . .


….very, very steady. So the online polls are there that are sampling based on sort of regularity, there’s a lot of science behind it – they’ve been more steady, whereas the phone polls have been more up and down. Is that who’s right, who’s wrong? I have no idea. We’ll know. But I don’t – I believe that Hillary has had momentum, that there’s relative stability, and that this four-point lead that she’s got is about where it probably was three, four weeks ago too. And as we’re heading into Election Day, I think that’s what we’re going to see. Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Effi (ph). I’m from Soduicom (ph) based in China. I notice as GSG just published an article about the women in leadership --


QUESTION: -- could you give a short briefing on that and --

MR POLLOCK: Well, it’s not about politics, though. That’s about --


MR POLLOCK: That’s about corporate CEOs, so --

QUESTION: Yes. So my question is: Concerning to this, do you think American generally accept the idea of having a female president?

MR POLLOCK: A female president? Yeah, I mean, look, I think that the number of people who asked the same question whether Americans would accept an African American president – and there were many assumptions that the answer to that was no. And so I think that those types of sort of stereotype in the – it’s the right word – there is not a lot of evidence that that is problematic. I mean, Hillary is seen as a strong leader, for example. That’s something frequently people say they wouldn’t ascribe to a female if there is a problem.

And so I think that the data right now points to an absolute willingness on the part of many to vote for a woman. And if you asked the question, “Are you willing to vote,” a majority of the voters will say that. Now, there’s social biases, there’s social pressure to say that, but I think the data today says that the American public is ready for a woman president and I certainly hope that the American public and Donald Trump is ready for a Hillary Clinton president, which I think is a particularly special kind of woman. Thank you.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Anna Peletixin (ph) from the UK. It’s sort of a UK-specific question, but --


QUESTION: -- have you looked at Brexit --

MR POLLOCK: Let’s talk of Brexit.

QUESTION: -- polling? Yeah, and have you learned any lessons from --

MR POLLOCK: Yeah, I couldn’t have predicted that one.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Yeah.

MR POLLOCK: So the question about Brexit and sort of what it means from a polling perspective: Could we be wrong? That’s the question. Could we all be wrong? The answer is yes, we could all be wrong. We have a massive amount of data, though, here, and remember that it’s not a national election. We are looking at these sort of individual state-by-state elections, and so between both the public opinion as well as the rigorous modeling stuff that’s been done – the sort of data analytics – we certainly feel a little more confident going in that we have more data points and more methodological data points that point to a victory.

Also, again, the multimodal stuff, meaning the online, the phone polls – they all sort of make sense and they all – they all are in line. So it is possible. I cannot sit here and say that it is impossible, and again, Nate Silver, who is a genius, says that Donald Trump has a 35 percent chance of winning. Well, that’s not an insignificant chance of winning. But based on all that we’ve seen, there’s nothing that would indicate that we are looking at – in the face of a Brexit-style problem. That’s the best I can do, unfortunately until, tomorrow.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

MR POLLOCK: Yes, I see you.

QUESTION: Thomas Michael Minear from the Herald Sun in Australia. I know you sort of talked about North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Florida being probably the three key states.

MR POLLOCK: Mm-hmm, yep.

QUESTION: Do you have a worst-case scenario from your perspective for tomorrow night? Are there sort of states that you look at that you go – if you win, say, two of those, or is there a particular sort of a line --

MR POLLOCK: Meaning if Trump wins a couple of them?

QUESTION: Yeah, is there a particular – a line --

MR POLLOCK: Well, two of those are for sure. I mean, if Trump wins Florida and North Carolina, the map becomes very, very tight, and then she still – she’s got to hold on to Pennsylvania. So that’s not enough. Florida and North Carolina are probably not enough, and there are multiple models that look at this. Here’s part of the problem: As you all know, I could come up with 20 different models that sort of look at things. So I think what you would need is a Florida, North Carolina, plus another big state like Michigan, for example, or Minnesota or Wisconsin to flip. That’s when things – again, holding all other things constant, assuming that. I think there’s an article in the – in either the Washington Post or Politico today that talks about exactly that – a map whereby Florida and North Carolina go for Trump, and yet there’s still a more than reasonable path of victory for Hillary.

So that’s why I mentioned Pennsylvania as the key to me, because if Pennsylvania can hold, it certainly would suggest, based on the type of voters that are there, Michigan, Wisconsin all can hold as well. But the scenario is a Michigan, Florida, North Carolina.


QUESTION: Comparlario (ph) from --

MR POLLOCK: Oh, sorry, go ahead, yes. Sorry.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) okay. With a female candidate, what can we expect about the female vote and the female electoral turnout?

MR POLLOCK: Yeah, good question. The – according to the data that is in today, meaning when we look at early vote, the female share of the electorate seems to be up. There’s one flaw of that and I want to be careful. So people may have early voted. Are those new people or were they just people who usually voted on Election Day? And so I don’t want to go crazy in terms of making predictions of what the electorate is going to be…..


...are those new people or were they just people who usually voted on Election Day? And so I don’t want to go crazy in terms of making predictions of what the electorate is going to be.

But let’s just say that the electorate is 1 percent more female and therefore 1 percent less male. Well, that is a benefit to Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly because of the gender gap that has existed in American politics now for a number of years, where the average Democrat does much better with females than they do with males nationwide. There are differences there, but – so every percentage more the electorate is female, that’s good.

Now, that has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. If I was running for president and the electorate were 1 percent more Democratic, it would be better for me. The fact that it’s Hillary may be the contributing – may be a contributing factor to some of this high turnout, but I also don’t want to ignore this Hispanic thing I’ve mentioned before, because the increase in Hispanic turnout seems to be in part coming from Latinas, coming from Hispanic women, and that again is an important piece of the puzzle.

So we’ll see, but there are certainly early indications that that may – that the sort of higher female percentage of the vote and therefore higher number for Hillary – that would be helpful.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

MR POLLOCK: Yes, thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Matthew Maletzwela (ph) from South Africa. I – in the two candidates --


QUESTION: -- your sense – I mean, in terms of – I mean, they – you said that the two have got the high rate of --

MR POLLOCK: Unfavorable, yep. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- unfavorability. Who between the two is business comfortable with?


QUESTION: And also, I wanted to know, I mean, what is behind the turn of events in terms of the – you said that the – if the elections for the Senate was to be held today, the Democrats – Democratic Party will win.


QUESTION: What would be the reason behind that?

MR POLLOCK: So the first question was about – remind me.

MODERATOR: Business.

MR POLLOCK: Business. So I can’t speak for business. It’s hard for me to do, but here’s what I can say: There’s no question that there is lots of evidence that great business leaders from around this country, many of whom have been very clearly identified as conservative Republicans and supporting Republicans over the years, have shown their lack of comfort with Donald Trump and their relative comfort with Hillary Clinton. And that in itself is an unusual thing. And so I don’t know that the – I think that there’s a lot of discomfort from lots of folks about Donald Trump and the way he talks, his politics of division, that people are uncomfortable with.

Take, for example, in North Carolina this past year, there was a controversial measure about transgender bathrooms that got a lot of attention. Well, it got a lot of attention in corporate America as well, and corporations really responded by saying to a very conservative governor in North Carolina these aren’t the kind of policies that we’re okay with. And so in – and you cited my firm – we have – on our website you can see our study about business and politics. Businesses who venture into politics have to do so carefully, but the voters in this country are now looking for businesses to take a stand and to take a moral stand, frankly, in some ways. And so I think you’re going to see even more of that. But who business is comfortable with, I don’t think that I’m – I’m not the right person to sort of weigh in on that, except the answer is Hillary Clinton, of course.

So the – to your second question, the Democrats have – when you look at the map, the Democrats have had a path to take back the Senate because they have had fewer seats to defend that are tough, meaning the incumbents that are in those – that are in Democratic seats, that’s – Nevada is one of the biggest ones, whereas the rest of the Democrats were on offense in places like Illinois and Wisconsin, where Hillary Clinton was likely to win the presidency, and therefore it made it much harder for that Republican incumbent to win. Putting aside their personality, if you’re in Illinois – as Mark Kirk is; he’s a Republican in Illinois – statewide in a presidential election, Hillary Clinton’s going to win by an overwhelming number in Illinois. So if you’re Mark Kirk, it means you have to over-perform Donald Trump by a dramatic margin, probably by 15 points or something like that – like, a huge, huge margin. Well, that’s very, very hard to do, particularly in federal races.

So the Republicans had more of those that they had to defend in these tough states, and that’s the reason why the Democrats have been more likely to – that’s why they had that sort of 72 percent chance of taking the Senate based on some of the models four weeks ago. Why is it down to 56? Well, because the race is getting closer nationally. Everything’s getting closer, and again, people are being pushed to their partisan sides. And so in those very tough swing states like the New Hampshires, Nevadas, Pennsylvanias of this world, where the presidential is tighter, the Senate races are also naturally tighter.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Gisella Lopez Lenci from El Comercio in Peru. Everybody’s talking about the Latino vote, like you.


QUESTION: In which of the swing states the Latino vote could be fundamental tomorrow?

MR POLLOCK: Todo. In which states is the Hispanic vote the most critical? Some of them are...


…why it’s not really looking like a swing state right now. The Clinton campaign stopped spending in Colorado a month ago or something like that, all right. And so Hispanics in Denver have been a very important part of that. On the flip side, Hispanics in Arizona, where there’s been a massive increase, have made Arizona a potential target for the Democrats and why Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign has actually spent money in Arizona to try to put it in play.

Then the other states where it matters is Florida and Nevada; those are two very, very different states. Nevada coming from largely a Mexican population, coming from California and south and so, is one. And then Florida, where you have an incredible divide, because you can’t talk about Florida Hispanics; you can only talk about their different flavors of Hispanics as there are everywhere, but in particular in Florida you have the Cubans and the non-Cubans. And the non-Cuban Hispanics vote one way and the Cubans are disproportionately or have been disproportionately voting Republican. Well, some of that has broken down; some of that traditional republican Cuban vote has been breaking down, because younger Cubans have seen kind of the policies of the Obama Administration and others breaking down walls with Cuba. So that’s breaking down. And then on the non-Cuban Hispanic side, you’ve had a massive influx of groups like Puerto Ricans into places like Orlando, and that is a net benefit to the Democrats where they are overwhelmingly Democratic voters.

So those are some of them; there are smaller pockets in some of the other states to talk about, like North Carolina for sure, there’s a Hispanic vote that matters, but those are – but the ones that I just mentioned are certainly the big ones.

MODERATOR: Okay, way in the back.

MR POLLOCK: In the back, go ahead.

MODERATOR: On your left.

MR POLLOCK: I can see.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m (inaudible.) I’m writing for The Wire online from India. My question is: Exit poll always influence the electorate.

MR POLLOCK: Exit polls or --


MR POLLOCK: -- or polls going into it?

QUESTION: Polls – no, the poll centrally affects – it influences the electorate.

MR POLLOCK: Yeah. It can. There’s not a lot of evidence that it does. We – I believe we’re going to have massive turnout in the presidential election as we would expect and voters have been inundated with information. The information that they have by and large shows that the race matters, and that the race is tighter, and that their vote tends to matter.

The way that we can answer whether polls make a difference is to look at a state like Texas where, again, their vote doesn’t really matter, because we know that they are going to vote Republican; or a state like New York where, again, we know that New York is going to vote Democratic. So after tomorrow, we can look back and see what turnout it is going to be. My bet is that in both of those states, for example, turnout is going to be about what we expected. So there isn’t a lot of evidence that the polls influence whether or not people vote, unless the polls show that there’s a blowout. And when the polls show there’s a blowout, meaning some candidate is going to win by 20 points, well, that does sometimes impact people, because they say why should I vote? And frankly, that’s logical, but there’s no evidence of that today.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Anna Virginia Balloussier, from the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. And I just want to ask you: How do you feel about the silent majority?

MR POLLOCK: Well, not – do you – the silent majority, or you mean like the silent Trump vote? Which – what do you mean?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR POLLOCK: Well, I think you’re asking about more like the people who say they’re going to vote for Donald Trump and don’t tell the pollsters. I’m not sure that I believe in that, and there’s been a – there was a great experiment by one organization, Morning Consult, which is a research organization in Washington. What they did is they did a traditional phone poll and they did an online poll. And what they did – they did an online poll and they had some people by phone that they got to do it by phone, some people online.

So the theory is is that if you do a poll online and you secretly like Donald Trump, you’re more likely to say online, on a computer, because nobody can see me, nobody is talking to me, that I’m voting for Donald Trump. And so the difference between the online poll and the phone poll was about a half a percent. So is it – so sure, maybe there is a half a percent, but that’s not dramatic and I’m not even sure that I would conclude that that’s sort of enough to claim. The other thing is the Trump campaign, for a period of time when they were doing very poorly, talked a lot about the shy voter or the Bradley effect, which goes back to an election in California in the United States, where a guy named Tom Bradley was running for governor and there was this assumption that there was a social good to say you were voting for an African American and therefore he was over-performing in the polls.

So when the Trump campaign was down a couple months ago, for example, that was their go-to, was that there are shy voters. Then the polls got much tighter and all of a sudden they stopped talking about that. And so to me, you got to pick one; if you actually believe that, then you better stick with it the whole time. Again, is it possible? Sure it’s possible, but at least the science that has looked at it to date doesn’t seem to indicate that. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m David Smith of The Guardian from the UK.


QUESTION: Just following on that last point. Is it possible, though, that there will be a surge of people who’ve never voted before?

MR POLLOCK: Possible.

QUESTION: Does the – does polling tend to focus on registered voters and --



MR POLLOCK: No, so let’s answer both of those things, right. Yes, it is possible that there will be a surge of new voters. In fact, when you look at the early vote, in many of those places, they are new voters already; we know that. In some of the places, it’s 20, 25 percent of the people are new voters.

Here’s the thing: I can’t speak to the public polls as much. I can tell you the private pollsters, we factor that in. We know that there’s going to be a certain percentage of new voters every single time. And so the Trump folks, for example, they were – in the primaries, they talked a lot about new voters, but there is no evidence that those were actually new voters. They may have been people who didn’t usually vote in a primary, but they weren’t brand new voters per se; they were people who maybe changed their behavior and became primary voters instead of general election voters. That’s real. No discounting that, but that’s different than finding a whole bunch of new people who hadn’t voted before.

So in our models, in all them, we look at a state and take a state like Pennsylvania and say okay, every four years in Pennsylvania about 12 percent or 15 percent of the state is likely to be new voters, and we have a sample of that. And so there’s a much bigger science to it than just sort of like looking at certainly registered voters, which most of us don’t look at, at what a likely voter is and what really the model should look like.

The one thing that we can’t do as pollsters is predict turnout. We’re not good at that, because calling you up and saying, hey…


Pollock 5 * donna

… because, you know, you’re a God-fearing UKer and so you vote, right? So you would say that. And so it’s not the best way of measuring turnout. We can do a lot of things like looking at interest and intensity and all sorts of other things, but that’s the one thing that we can’t quite get perfectly within the polls if there is a massive turnout shift. But we do factor in the new voters, very much so. Thank you.

QUESTION: Alex Vidal of Philippine Asia News. Mr. Trump has bashed the media not only once, not only twice --

MR POLLOCK: Say that again. He has passed?

QUESTION: Mr. Trump has bashed the media not only once, not only twice, but several times in his speeches.

MR POLLOCK: Oh, yes.

QUESTION: Yes. And since these polls have been reported in mass media, and technically they have become part and parcel of media --


QUESTION: -- so how do we convince the doubting Thomases, especially the pro-Trump supporters, that these polls are credible?

MR POLLOCK: Well, if Hillary wins tomorrow and then maybe they’re convinced until Donald Trump says it’s all rigged and contests the election. I don’t have a great answer for you. There’s no question that Donald Trump has taken media bashing to a new level, a disheartening level, in this cycle. There are pictures of folks at their – folks at a Trump rally from today or yesterday wearing terrible t-shirts that sort of talk about taking it to the media, and I mean literally taking them out and hanging them on a tree kind of a thing. And so that’s part of the thing that is so depressing about this election cycle is the base level of conversation that we have had to have. But I don’t think that – it’s not – it’s not anyone’s job to convince the voters that the polls are wrong or right. We’re going to see on Election Day and there’s going to be a lot of conversations about what those polls said and whether they were right or wrong.

QUESTION: Hello, how are you?


QUESTION: Keever Mathis (ph) from Jamaica News.


QUESTION: I’m sure – I want you to speak to me about the number of swing states and where is the position of Hillary in these states. And in particular in Ohio you spoke about a number of things happening in that state. Where does the old adage maintains where the Ohio vote, the election vote?

MR POLLOCK: Yeah. No question that the – Ohio has been the bellwether for all of these years, and I don’t think it is anymore, at least in this election cycle. I can’t say whether Hillary Clinton will win or lose. The polls are very tight in Ohio, but there have been a number of recent polls that show her down by a couple of points. But let’s just pretend for the sake of argument that she doesn’t win Ohio. The point of the Electoral College is she doesn’t actually need Ohio to win, that the rest of the states make up for it, and that in this election cycle what is happening and what has really turned it on its head is you have many white college-educated voters voting more – you have many more – excuse me – white educated – white college-educated voters – excuse me – voting for Hillary and you have many more downscale blue-color white voters who are voting for Trump. And so Ohio represents a lot more of those more downscale white voters, and that’s the reason why, if he is able to win, that will be the reason.

But Hillary has been able to build on her – on the lead – on her lead on the back of these college-educated white voters. So in the suburbs, for example, places like the suburbs of Philadelphia, where, if you all want to look at what’s going on, that’s a place where Hillary Clinton should and needs to win big. Well, many of those are Republican or Republican-leaning counties, Delaware County and Chester County in Pennsylvania, where it’s clear that many of those college-educated Republican voters are kind of rejecting the politics of Trump. And so it will be weird at the end of this election to say if Hillary does lose Ohio – and again, I don’t know that she will – but if she does, it will be weird to say it’s no longer a bellwether, but I’m okay with that. Like, there are many other paths to victory that don’t involve that and politics – the politics and the demographics of the country changes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR POLLOCK: Oh, how many states? Oh, I’m sorry. How many states do I consider swing states? Well, they’re going to send out the slides that I sent out. There are somewhere about 10 states that are considered swing states by both sides, and so the best thing to do is to go to some of the websites, go to The Upshot or go to, RealClearPolitics, and you’ll see the average in all of those states. And there’s any number of them that are very close. That’s why I point to North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania as the states that I’m going to be watching most closely on Election Day.

MODERATOR: Okay, we have time for one or two more questions. We’re going to go over there first.

QUESTION: Hello, my name is Gazmend Syla and I come from Kosovo. This is the first time I am here and covering the U.S. elections, and I find very interesting this polling industry. I would like to go back to history and learn maybe if the polls proved to be right always and be accurate. Thank you.

MR POLLOCK: No, they’re not always right, which is what – it’s not whether they’re right or wrong, some of them. It’s whether or not things change between now and Election Day. Of course, we have so many polls these days that are leading up to today. But you always have undecided voters, and of course, how they break will impact things.

By and large, if you look at the history of the polling industry in this country, we’ve gotten more right than wrong. I’m not here to speak for the entire industry, but I do think that the – that history still smiles on us. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t gotten some wrong. We have. Which is, I think, why you see somebody like Nate Silver saying that it’s not a 90 percent chance that Hillary wins, but it’s a 66 percent chance that Hillary wins because – because of exactly that fact. I certainly hope for the sake of my country that the polls are right.

Yes. Last question, thank you.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Bhekithembai Makhuba from Swaziland. I just wanted to find out, listening to you and listening to the whole campaign issue, where is the African American vote here, and why are they being seen as peripheral to the whole --

MR POLLOCK: Why are they seen as being – say that last thing?

QUESTION: Peripheral, as if they --

MR POLLOCK: Peripheral? Oh my, they are not peripheral at all. In fact, one of the major things that has been discussed in terms of the early vote, these votes that have already been cast, is that the African American vote appears to be down, meaning they are – they have not. So it is far from peripheral. For Hillary Clinton it is essential that the African American vote come out, and of course, she is expected to win the African American vote overwhelmingly, 90-plus percent if not more.

So it is far from peripheral. In fact, if you look at Hillary Clinton’s schedule and you look at where Hillary Clinton will be – yesterday she was in an African American church yesterday, she’s in Detroit, she’s in Philadelphia – I think you will see how important from a GOTV – Get Out The Vote – the African American vote is to the Clinton campaign. The one thing about the Clintons that Donald Trump does not have…


... massive ground game, a field operation in lots of places. And Donald Trump does not have that, both because of the primaries and because of who he is. And so I think a lot of the activity particularly in the African American community, the black vote is very, very important and in no way is peripheral. So if you look at all the stories over the last couple of days about early vote, I think you’ll see a lot of information about it.

Thank you for your question. Thank you for having me. I know they’ll be sending these slides out as well. And if you have further questions, the folks at State can help put you in touch with me.

MODERATOR: Thank you again, Jefrey Pollock. We really appreciate your time today. (Applause.) This briefing was on the record. And I think Orna Blum has a few closing remarks.

MS BLUM: Okay. I hope you all had a very good day. Welcome to those of you who just joined us. Thank you very much to Jef Pollock from the Global Strategy Group. We wish everyone a good and successful evening of rest. A couple of what we call housekeeping announcements.

First of all, I would like to invite all of you back, of course, tomorrow. For those of you who are participating in the special reporting tours that are hosted by the Foreign Press Center, those of you who are on the programs that we have sponsored from our embassies, we want to make sure that you know that we will be leaving tomorrow at 8:30 sharp. So the buses will be meeting us here at the hotel. For those of you who are with the Foreign Press Center who wish to go to polling stations that have been advertised by our New York office, we look forward to meeting you at the sites there that you plan to attend. And please remember to bring your letters with you.

I also would like to flag for you a couple of really key briefings that we hope will be really – help with your substantive reporting and the background of the issues that you’re interested in covering before you hit the streets and the various election night events.

So at 1400, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, we will have an on-the-record panel with Columbia and New York University professors on U.S. Foreign Policy in the Next Administration. We know we had a number of questions on this. We have a number of key experts – David Phillips, who writes frequently on ISIS, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey for CNBC and other outlets. We have Kimberly Marten, who is former director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, who has expertise in Russian foreign policy and U.S.-Russia relations; Christopher Sabatini, who has worked on and in Cuba since 1997 and who has been working with White House advisors on policy change toward Cuba since the start of the Obama Administration; and we have David Denoon, who is Professor of Politics and Economics at New York University and director of the NYU Center on U.S.-China Relations. So great foreign policy briefing covering a lot of different issues that we hope will be of interest to you.

Following that briefing, at 1600, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we have another on-the-record briefing. This will be The State of the Race from the Conservative Perspective with John McLaughlin, who is CEO and Partner of McLaughlin and Associates. And of course, for those of you who are scheduled to go to Times Square or other events in New York City, whether it be at the Hilton or going towards Trump Tower or to the Javits Center or elsewhere, we wish you a very successful program.

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning. And thank you again.