Will Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump become the next U.S. president? A political science professor thinks he has the answer.
Dr. Helmut Norpoth of Stony Brook University has developed a statistical formula that he claims has picked the winner of the presidential popular vote going back 100 years, except for the JFK-Nixon matchup in 1960.
He predicts that Donald Trump has an 87-percent probability of winning the election in November.
In the February/March time frame, well before both parties settled on their nominee, the professor declared that Trump had a 97 percent chance of becoming commander in chief of the U.S. You could almost “take it to the bank,” he declared at the time.
Developed 20 years ago, Norpoth’s theory has two prongs. The first is that it is very difficult for a political party to hold the presidency for three consecutive terms. In this context, he claims that the electoral pendulum will swing from Democrat to Republican. The second is that dominance in the primaries serves as a precursor to general election success.
Noting that unlike President Reagan, who increased his margin of victory the second time around, Barack Obama received fewer votes in his 2012 reelection against Mitt Romney as compared to his 2008 campaign against John McCain, Dr. Norpoth further expounded on his premise in a Newsday op-ed.
“After two terms in office, the presidential party in power loses more often than not…Now add the outcomes of presidential primaries. Although some experts claim primary votes have no bearing on general elections, the fact is that primaries prove uncanny in forecasting the winner in November…In general, the party with the stronger primary candidate wins the general election. This year, Trump has wound up as the stronger of the two presidential nominees. He won many more primaries than did Clinton…”
With the apparent inclusion of a pun, Norpoth, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1974, also insisted that Donald Trump is benefiting from the voters’ desire for change rather than the status quo.
“The Primary Model predicts that Trump will defeat Clinton with 87 percent certainty. He is the candidate of change. When voters demand change, they are willing to overlook many foibles of the change candidate…Trump may be lucky to have picked an election in which change trumps experience and experience may prove to be a mixed blessing.”
Since the presidency is fought on a state-by-state basis on the path to 270 electoral votes, the popular vote in and of itself may or may not be decisive in November.
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 maintained, “Looking ahead to the November 2016 US presidential election, I see clear signs that Google is backing Hillary Clinton.”
Another wild card: Up to and during the DNC convention that ended last night, Bernie Sanders supporters have alleged vote fraud by Team Clinton during the primaries and caucuses, while many Republicans have long maintained that states without a photo ID requirement make shenanigans at the polls easier.
There is also a significant potential for the Bernie-or-bust cohort to gravitate toward Green Party standard-bearer Jill Stein, giving a new meaning to #ImWithHer.
Against 16 other rivals, Donald Trump received 13.4 million votes in the GOP primaries, more than any other Republican candidate in history.
The New York real estate mogul has also been doing well in a series of recent polls, but Prof. Norpoth suggests that polling should be taken with a grain of salt.
“For starters, pre-election polls have selected the wrong candidate many times…My advice: Beware of pollsters bearing forecasts, especially anyone trying to peek into the future, especially those with money to bet.”
In other words, your mileage may vary.
Who do you think will win the general election in November: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
[Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]