Despite a recent health scare and *deplorable* gaffe, Hillary Clinton is still maintaining her post-convention lead in most polls, albeit a shrinking one. According to the Real Clear Politics average (which averages together dozens of polls), Clinton is leading Trump 45.8 percent to 43.4 percent currently. Still, momentum could very well continue to build in Trump’s favor as more revelations about Hillary’s health are brought to light.
The polls are just one way to predict the outcome of an election. Others look at the betting odds for each candidate’s probability of victory, as those putting their money where their mouths are tend to know a bit more than the rest of us. The betting odds are still showing over a 60 percent chance of a Hillary presidency, but as reported by The Hill, one prediction model begs to differ with those who think Hillary has this election in the bag.
It is one that, with slight variations, has accurately predicted the winner of the popular vote in each of the last five presidential elections, ever since it was introduced in 1996.
Dubbed the “Primary Model,” it puts much stock in using primary results to forecast the vote in the general election. It also takes advantage of a historical tendency of the electoral pendulum to swing back and forth between the two parties. Both factors favor Trump over Clinton in 2016.
Trump proved to be the stronger candidate in primaries, according to the metric used by the model, and the electoral pendulum is poised to swing back to the Republican side after two Democratic terms in the White House under Barack Obama. The Primary Model predicts that Trump will defeat Clinton by 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent of the two-party vote. It is 87-percent certain that he will be the next President.The methodology is too wonkish to quote in full, but some of the relevant bits explaining how the model works are detailed below. In addition to primaries, the swing of the electoral pendulum generates predictive power. Even a casual observer of presidential elections may have noticed a distinct pattern: the party in the White House wins re-election after one term almost all the time, but much more rarely after two terms. In fact, during the last 65 years, the party in power has managed to win three terms in a row only once: in 1988.
Over the long haul since 1828, according to my statistical estimates, the White House party has averaged 2.6 terms in office. A third term is not out of the question, but not very certain either.
It depends on how well the White House party did in winning a second term compared to its winning the first term. Doing better in the re-election makes a third term more likely; doing worse makes change more likely.
To return to the 1988 case, Ronald Reagan defeated President Carter in 1980 by about 10 points and then won re-election in 1984 by nearly double that margin. The Reagan revolution was still churning, which was good news for George H.W. Bush, the GOP nominee in 1988.
In contrast, Obama won re-election in 2012 with a margin half the size of his win in 2008. The appeal of “Hope and Change” was wearing off. Bad news for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Of course, we have many possibilities for some October surprises that could further tilt things toward Trump. Given how a new Hillary scandal seems to emerge every few months, I wouldn’t be surprised if something new came out to further derail her campaign. Not to mention whatever Wikileaks has up its sleeve…
[Note: This post was written by The Analytical Economist]