Chances of winning presidential election in terms of an NFL football game.

There is a general election happening right now and the NFL season is starting.  Let’s talk about the candidates chances in terms of NFL games.

At the The Upshot they track 8 different presidential forecasts, 5 of which give actual percentages.  Currently (at 11:07am on September 2nd) Clinton’s win probabilities range from a high of 94% based on the Princeton Election Consortium’s forecast to a low of 74% for FiveThirtyEight and DailyKos.  (PredictWise has it at 77% and the New York Times has it at 87%).

Let’s put these probabilities in context using Pro Football Reference’s NFL win probability calculator:

Let’s start by looking at the worst case scenario for Trump: 6% chance to win.  (Unless otherwise noted, I’m assuming the spread is 0.)

• 5.9%: A 21 point underdog wins the game outright.
• 5.8%: Your team is down 15 at halftime.
• 5.97%: Your team has the ball and is trailing by 7 with 2 minutes left with 1st and 10 from your own 3 yard line.
• 6.09%: Your team has the ball and is trailing by 3 with 10 seconds left with 1st and 10 from your own 10 yard line.

Now let’s look at Trump’s best case scenario for Trump: 26%

• 26.4%: An 8.5 point underdog wins the game outright.
• 26.4%: Your team is down 6 at halftime.
• 26.28%: Your team has the ball and is trailing by 7 with 2 minutes left with 1st and 10 from your opponents 13 yard line.
• 25.37%: Your has the ball and is trailing by 3 with 10 seconds left with 1st and 10 from your opponents 40 yard line.

In Clinton’s best case scenario, she has  94% chance to win the election.

• 93.78%: Your team has the ball and is up by 4 with 2 minutes left with 1st and 10 from your own 20 yard line.
• 94.2%: Your team is up 15 at halftime.
• 94.1%: A 21 point favorite wins the game outright.

In Clinton’s worst case scenario, she has  74% chance to win the election.

• 74.83%: Your team has the ball and is up by 3 with 4 minutes left with 1st and 10 from your own 20 yard line.
• 73.6%: Your team is up 6 at halftime.
• 73.6%: An 8.5 point favorite wins the game outright.

So Clinton’s chances of winning right now are comparable to a team that is somewhere between an 8.5 and 21 point favorite.  Or a team that is up somewhere between 6 and 15 points at half time.

Sort of unrelated fun fact that I found when looking up Super Bowl spreads:  That last three teams to be favored by more than 10 have all lost outright (2008 New England (-12), 2002 St. Louis (-14), 1998 Green Bay (-11)).

Cheers.