UI Analytics: presidential race tightens after debate

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URBANA — Many people are looking forward to Election Day even more after the action from Monday night’s presidential debate. Political experts at the University of Illinois say by their standards, Hillary Clinton came out on top, but that doesn’t mean Donald Trump is out of it. Experts say Trump has actually been gaining ground the last few weeks. They say this time last month, Clinton was pretty much a lock for president, but now her odds of winning are closer to 80 percent.

Professor Sheldon Jacobson works with a team of students on Election Analytics. The non-partisan website breaks down information from polls and works those numbers through an algorithm to see who has the best chance of winning. On Monday, they got information from 18 new polls. Jacobson says the more numbers they have, the better their analysis becomes, but they still have a lot of questions leading up to Election Day.

“Typically at this time in the election in previous years, you’d have 3-6% of the people who are undecided,” said Jacobson. “If you exclude the third party candidates, it’s closer now to 15 percent. Now, there are people who are committing to the third party candidates in the poll, but will they press the lever for the third party candidates when they’re in the booth? Nobody knows that.”

The site crunches the numbers state by state, just like it would with the Electoral College. Jacobson says he expects Clinton will get a bump after Monday’s debate, but it may be short lived. He says the final debate is much more important, since it will be more fresh in voters’ memory in November.

You may remember that four years ago, experts said Mitt Romney won his first debate with Barack Obama. Despite that, Obama was the one who ended up in the White House. If you want to see the latest poll numbers from the University of Illinois analytics team, click here.

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