Nate Silver on the FBI reopening the Clinton email investigation

I was just sitting here thinking that we were in for a relatively newsless, perhaps even anticlimactic, finish to the presidential campaign. Then the news broke that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to congressional leaders saying that the FBI had ?learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation? of Hillary Clinton?s personal email server during her time as secretary of state. The FBI will take ?appropriate investigative steps? to review the emails, the letter said.

…a quick look at where our forecast stands ? and I?ll remind you that it is based on polls and won?t reflect any effect from the FBI news until the polls do. We?ve reached the point in the campaign in which there are so many polls coming in ? state polls, national polls, tracking polls, one-off polls ? that it?s really nice to have a model to sort out all the data. A couple of days ago, the model was beginning to detect tenuous signs that the presidential race was tightening. Now, that seems a bit clearer. Clinton?s lead over Donald Trump is now 5.7 percentage points in our polls-only model, down from 7.1 points on Oct. 17. And Trump?s chances of winning the election have recovered to 18 percent from a low of 12 percent. Trump?s chances in our polls-plus forecast are 21 percent, improved from a low of 15 percent.

Almost all the tightening is happening because Trump?s numbers have improved. Clinton?s share of the vote ? about 46 percent in national polls ? is still as high as it?s been all campaign. But Trump seems to have brought home some Republicans who were thinking about sitting out the election or voting for a third-party candidate. Libertarian Gary Johnson has fallen to 5 percent in our popular-vote forecast ? his lowest point to date. (If Johnson finishes with less than 5 percent, the Libertarian Party would be deprived of federal matching funds for the 2020 election.) The undecided vote is also declining, although it remains high compared with recent elections.

The tightening is modest enough that it?s not apparent in every poll. It isn?t hard to find polls with favorable trend lines for Clinton, in fact. But there are slightly more of them that have favorable trend lines for Trump, at least compared with his mid-October lows.

Silver wrote that within 24 hours of the announcement. ?The true impact of the FBI announcement still has to show.

However, the timing of the announcement is interesting. ?The FBI clearly want to have this off their chest before the election as they expect to be called on not doing so if they don’t.

The investigation itself is unlikely to progress in any significant way in the remaining time before most people go to the polls.