A political science professor’s model of predicting elections that has a 96.1 accuracy forecasts Republican Donald Trump will be elected President of the United States in the 2016 elections.
Stony Brook University’s Professor Helmut Norpoth’s system for forecasting elections has only been wrong once — in 1960. And this time it’s saying Trump has a 97 percent chance of winning the White House if he’s the GOP nominee and faces Hillary Clinton, and a 99 percent chance if he faces Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gets the nod.
Norpoth created a statistical model of presidential elections that uses a candidate’s performance in their party’s primary and patterns in the electoral cycle as predictors of the presidential vote in the general election.
Donald Trump has a 97 percent chance of defeating Hillary Clinton and a 99 percent chance of defeating Bernie Sanders in the general election, according to Norpoth’s formula.
“The bottom line is that the primary model, using also the cyclical movement, makes it almost certain that Donald Trump will be the next president,” Norpoth said, “if he’s a nominee of the [Republican] party.”
Norpoth’s primary model works for every presidential election since 1912, with the notable exception of the 1960 election. These results give the model an accuracy of 96.1 percent.
I’m actually not surprised one bit.
From the day Trump announced the bulk of analysts said he didn’t have a chance of getting the nomination and certainly not of winning. I’ve pointed out that if you read history and biographies history — and this includes entertainment history — is filled with examples of people who were underrated, ignored, laughed at, considered fringe, predicted to go no where, and they in fact came out on top. Then all the former conventional wisdom so smugly written and broadcast by people giving their take through their own political filters and assumptions were swept under the rug.
In fact, if someone is running for office for a major political party no matter what logic, trends and facts may say at the time, saying they will never get a nomination or will never be elected is just that. An assertion that could be proven wrong.
Norpoth began the presentation with an introduction of the potential matchups in the general election, including a hypothetical Sanders vs. Trump general election.
“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke.” Norpoth said referring to Trump and Sanders, as many alumni in the audience laughed. “Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore.”
As the presentation continued, laughter turned to silence as Norpoth forecasted a 61 percent chance of a Republican win in the general election.
This forecast was made using the electoral cycle model, which studies a pattern of voting in the presidential election that makes it less likely for an incumbent party to hold the presidency after two terms in office. The model does not assume who would be the party nominees or the conditions of the country at the time.
“You think ‘This is crazy. How can anything come up with something like that?’ ” Norpoth said “But that’s exactly the kind of equation I used to predict Bill Clinton winning in ‘96, that I used to predict that George Bush would win in 2004, and, as you remember four years ago, that Obama would win in 2012.”
Norpoth then added data from the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to narrow down the forecast to specific candidates. As he brought up the first slide with matchup results, the silence was broken by muttering from the audience.
And it gets more definitive, according to the model:
“Trump beats Hillary 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent [of the popular vote]. This is almost too much to believe.” Norpoth said, with a few members of the audience laughing nervously. “The probability of that [outcome] is almost complete certainty, 97 percent. It’s almost ‘Take it to the bank.’ ”
The primary model predicts a Trump victory with such certainty due to Trump’s relatively high success in the Republican primaries, Norpoth said. Clinton, in comparison, is in an essential tie with Sanders in the Democratic primaries. As a result, Sanders would also lose to Trump in a similar landslide if Sanders were to be the Democratic nominee, Norpoth said.
In contrast, Norpoth forecasted that a hypothetical presidential race with Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio on the Republican ticket would be a much closer race. The results showed Clinton with a 55 percent chance of winning the race against Cruz or Rubio with a 0.3 percent lead in the popular vote.
So the jokes and dimissive new and old media columns will continue about Donald Trump, now edging towards considering him a serious candidate who could get the nomination.
The Republican estabalishment and Democrats underestimate at his peril.
And it might be wise for many pundits to add a few journalistic hedge words about how he’ll never be elected or this or that group will never support him.
Could this model be wrong?
What are the odds of it being wrong given its track record?