Nervous Breakdown the Vote

The odds you’re going to lose your sh*t over the election this week, by FiveThirtyEight

via Shutterstock

Here at FiveThirtyEight, we’ve been updating our election model all weekend—running trend line adjustments, house effects regressions, and top-line cross-tab Excel spreadsheet math-modulations.

After doing so, it appears more likely than ever that you are going to sob quietly at your desk this week—or, at the very least, suffer a series of panic attacks that ends with you hurling your coffee mug down a stairwell as you scream “COMEY!!!!!” into the void.

Let’s look at some polls.

Recent data from New Hampshire indicates that if you’re not wearing an adult diaper on Tuesday, you should be. And the newest NBC/WSJ tracker shows a sure trend toward you, in a dark office bathroom stall, crying into a wad of toilet paper while a concerned co-worker asks if you want her to go buy you a cupcake.

Meanwhile, the numbers out of Iowa recall four words: “Chaotic Apocalypse Anxiety Sharknado.”

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Early voting data from North Carolina is equally grim—assuming you didn’t want to spend the rest of the week staring at CNN in disbelief, an uneaten burrito spilling rice onto your sweatpants.

Indeed, at this, point there are five equally-likely outcomes in this election:

  • Your candidate wins
  • You take up smoking again
  • You send a series of threatening letters to Wolf Blitzer
  • You fill out an online application for permanent residence in the Netherlands
  • You wear your pajamas to work because, seriously, who cares

Obviously none of this is good news for you, or your recurring night terrors.

The news gets worse when you look at early voting patterns. Below, I’ve charted out a key set of data: Minority turnout in battleground states as it relates to how likely you are to burst into tears in the middle of a GoToMeeting.

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The newest early voter data does not look good for people who do not like crying in public.

However, it’s not all doom, gloom, and the movie Room.

Our polls-plus model does offer some relief for those who don’t want to spend next two weeks in a Xanax coma.

For example, the LATimes/USC-Dornslife tracker found a slight downtick in the probability that your Thanksgiving will end with you drunkenly hurling a handful of stuffing at your stepfather’s face.

And that AP/SurveyMonkey poll that’s the talk of the data-wonk message board universe? Well, it’s an outlier, but if it’s correct, you might be able to stop listening to Dashboard Confessional in your bedroom every night as you down six glasses of room-temperature Trader Joe’s champagne.

A word of caution: Presidential elections, like hurricanes and Rudy Giuliani-induced nervous breakdowns, are notoriously difficult to forecast.

Maybe Hillary Clinton will win the race in a landslide. Maybe you’ll spend Tuesday night stress-vomiting in the alleyway behind your local Red Robin. That’s how close the polls are.

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But let’s keep something in mind:

Yes, as of right now, you are more likely to burst into tears on the G train this week as a direct result of voters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

But there is still a 2-to-1 chance that you will not cry on the G train this week, or that if you do cry on the G train, it will be due to something unrelated to the election.

In the end, this election will come down to three things: persuasive comments you leave on your high school gym teacher’s Facebook page; a surprise endorsement from key political thinkfluencer Matt Lauer; and voter turnout.

So go out and vote on Tuesday. Because every minute you spend at the voting booth is another minute you aren’t anxiously reloading FiveThirtyEight at your desk.