While historically speaking, betting odds have been a better predictor of a political race than the polls, this election has been different. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Donald Trump isn’t a politician, which has been a game-changer for the experts.
Let’s look at the statistics blog Five Thirty Eight as an example, which has been noted for the accuracy of its election models. In 2012, founder Nate Silver accurately predicted how all fifty states would vote in the presidential election.
But let’s look at their accuracy with Trump. Even as late as November 2015, Silver had pegged Trump’s odds of winning the Republican nomination at “higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent.” Clearly he was wrong about that, but what do the odds shows his odds of becoming president? Roughly 2:1 in favor of Hillary, with momentum in Trump’s direction.
I’m singling out Five Thirty Eight because of another event that happened last night: the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Here’s a reminder from the Washington Examiner’s Jeremy Lott of what Five Thirty Eight said the odds on that were.Going into Sunday, the team was down 3 to 1 games, leading FiveThirtyEight.com sports number cruncher Rob Arthur to speculate that they were probably doomed. “With a 2-1 World Series deficit and home-field advantage slipping away, the Cubs needed this game,” Arthur wrote. “Instead, the Indians soundly defeated the Cubs 7-2 on Saturday night in Game 4, silencing the normally raucous Wrigley crowd and drastically decreasing Chicago’s chance of taking home the championship.”
Going into Sunday’s Cubs comeback game, Arthur rated their “total chance of winning the Series at a measly 15 percent.”
That statistical sliver of hope, he reminded the website’s highly numerate readers, is “a smaller chance than FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast model currently gives Donald Trump to win the White House.
In fact, the odds were so against the Cubs, Nate Silver Tweeted this back in May:
Reminder: Cubs will win the World Series and, in exchange, President Trump will be elected 8 days later. https://t.co/lej7TXnnju
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 11, 2016
Well, maybe his sarcasm will turn out to be an accurate prediction.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]