Ask around: Washington is pretty certain Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win the White House. Democrats have a natural turnout advantage in presidential years, seasoned political operatives reason. Five of the past six popular-vote tallies have gone to the Democratic candidate. And early polls that show Clinton sporting a big lead, especially among women, have strategists wondering how the Republican nominee could ever catch up.
But outside of the capital, from Georgia to New York to California, there’s another set of political professionals watching this race: academics and model-makers. And based on the data they track, Democrats have little reason to be so bullish about Clinton’s chances.
“Viewing her as a prohibitive favorite at this point is misplaced, definitely,” says Alan Abramowitz.
Abramowitz isn’t a Republican pollster or a professional Clinton-hater. He’s a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. And he and his ilk—the wonky academics who research in anonymity while pundits predict races on TV—offer the most compelling case for reconsidering Clinton as the likely winner.