President Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump? Professor Predicts Winner With ’97 percent Accuracy’

Robert Jonathan - Author

Feb. 27 2016, Updated 9:58 a.m. ET

A Stony Brook University professor predicts that one candidate has at least a 97 percent chance of winning the presidency in November 2016.

Could that be Bernie Sanders?

And you can practically “take it to the bank,” political science professor Helmut Norpoth claimed in a presentation for Stony Brook alumni at the SUNY Global Center in New York City on Monday evening.

“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,” The Statesmanexplained.

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Sorry Bernie Sanders fans: Dr. Norpoth forecasts that Donald Trump will be the next U.S. president based on statistical modeling that has supposedly accurately predicted each presidential election since 1912 (with the exception of Kennedy-Nixon in 1960) with a 96.1 percent accuracy.

Perhaps one wild card for any prediction this time around is the pervasive nature of social media, however. (Writing in Aeon, research psychologist Robert Epstein maintains that “Looking ahead to the November 2016 US presidential election, I see clear signs that Google is backing Hillary Clinton.”)

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By most accounts, Donald Trump turned in yet another lackluster GOP debate performance on Thursday night in Houston in a CNN national telecast, but he will probably still be favored to win most of the contests on the upcoming Super Tuesday with momentum from his victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

Although the electorate can be volatile, debate skills or lack thereof have not — so far anyway — proven to be a deal-breaker between the New York real estate mogul and the voters. Time will tell if that changes.

Norpoth, who earned his Ph.D at the University of Michigan in 1974, gives Trump a 97 percent chance of winning the election if he secures the GOP nomination and his opponent on the Democrat side is Hillary Clinton. The odds rise to 99 percent if he faces off with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist running for president as a Democrat.

Referring to the Trump and Sanders candidacy, Norpoth noted that “When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke. Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore,” especially when he included results from the recent primaries.

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“Trump beats Hillary 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent [of the popular vote]. This is almost too much to believe. The probability of that [outcome] is almost complete certainty, 97 percent,” Dr. Norpoth asserted. Anyone who wins at least 54 percent of the popular vote is a lock for a huge electoral college tally, he added.

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Back in 2014, and obviously without knowing the identities of any candidates, Norpoth predicted a GOP victory in the 2016 election. “Using the Democratic vote percentages in 2012 and 2008, the cyclical model predicts a Republican victory in 2016 with 51.4 percent of the two-party popular vote. After two terms the cyclical model points to ‘time for a change,’ just as it has in nearly every such election during the last half century,” he wrote on the LSE US Centre blog.

The model also indicates that Senators Rubio and Cruz have a 60 percent chance of defeating Sanders, while Clinton would have a 55 percent chance against Rubio or Cruz.

“Overall, Norpoth said a Republican has a 61 percent chance of winning the general election come November,” the Daily Mailnoted.

At this stage, polls and predictions are all over the place, with various candidates getting and losing the upper hand, so your mileage and everyone else’s may vary.

A Qunnipiac University poll from December 2015 argued that Bernie Sanders would easily defeat Donald Trump in a general election matchup. The ex-Celebrity Apprentice star would also lose to Hillary Clinton based on the same data.

Although Donald Trump quipped about his love for the “poorly educated” in his Nevada victory speech, another December 2015 survey suggested that he polls better with shy, college-educated voters and voters generally when they can express their voting preference anonymously.

[Photo by David J. Phillip/AP)


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