The point of an earlier post about historical models has not gotten through, judging from how concerned people are about the latest campaign brou-ha-ha, worrying about the debates, and so on.
Whether the incumbent party will maintain control of the White House can be predicted months, sometimes years, in advance. Helmut Norpoth and Allan Lichtman, whose models were discussed, have been doing that for several decades, and their models work retrospectively over the past 100 years (Norpoth) to 150 years (Lichtman).
The verdict is in: the incumbent party will lose control, meaning Trump is going to win.
Now, these models do not forecast what the important topics will be during election season, nor which positions on those topics will be the most popular. They do not predict the Electoral College vote (other than to say that whoever wins the popular vote almost always wins the EC), nor do they predict which states will side with which party. They do not give any hint of what the zeitgeist will be like, according to contemporary observers or future historians. They don't even necessarily know who the candidates will be. They simply measure signs of stability vs. disruption.
The kinds of things that these models look at are macro-level conditions that apply over the past four to eight years. For example, there's first-term incumbent advantage -- but an incumbent penalty if the party is going for three or more in a row. Was there discontent with the incumbent Presidential party during the previous mid-term Congressional elections? Which party had the more evenly contested primary battle (weak candidate), and which one had the more lop-sided battle (strong candidate)? Are people happy with the direction the economy has been heading over the past four years? This may differ depending on which section of society is responding. Do people feel more protected or less protected from foreign threats? And so on and so forth.
These thoughts and feelings have been brewing throughout the past four years, largely unconsciously. By the time the election season kicks into high gear, it is too late to alter a person's gut-level intuition about whether they're going to vote for the same party or changing the guard.
This is why campaigns largely do not matter, at least once the primaries are over. People's minds are mostly made up before the general election season has even begun. They will only respond to the output of campaign season -- from the candidates themselves, from the media, from social buzz -- by accepting something if it is concordant with their already formed decision, or rejecting it if it is discordant.
Someone who already felt content with continuing the status quo will seize on Trump's latest problematic words about women from 20 years ago, and dismiss the latest in a long line of leaks proving how corrupt Crooked Hillary has been for her entire career. Someone who already felt fed up with the status quo will seize on the video of Hillary collapsing and being dragged lifelessly into the car, while they will dismiss leaked audio showing Trump to be a skirt-chaser in the past.
These are ad-hoc rationalizations of long-formed gut-level intuitions. Arguing over them will not alter the outcome of the election. People might as well just shut up and wait until Election Day to do what they were already planning to do -- but with the team-vs.-team spectacle that politics has become, voters cannot help themselves. The media cater to this demand for fighting it out over every micro-event in the campaigns.
Trump was onto this in the primaries when he said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and still win. He was right because Republican primary voters were fed up with the status quo of the party, for a very long time in fact, and Trump was the only unorthodox and disruptive candidate. Voters who wanted change had only one choice. Of course, you have to be in a league of your own in the way that voters desire -- otherwise you're out immediately like Jim Webb during the Democrat primary.
Please, keep this in mind as we run the gauntlet of the final month of election season. Don't obsess over every nano-fart in the news cycle. And do not spazz out about WHAT TRUMP MUST DO to win. People are going into the voting booth thinking of the past four years, not the past four days.