Forecasting history

Famed prognosticator predicts Hillary Clinton will win 2016 election

Data guru Nate Silver is perhaps the political world’s foremost prognosticator, and on Wednesday he called the 2016 race for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — some 132 days ahead of the election.

During an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Silver predicted the U.S. will elect its first woman to be commander in chief, and he gave presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump very little chance of winning. Hillary Clinton has a whopping 79 percent chance of winning the general election in November, Silver told George Stephanopoulos. He’s only giving Trump a 20 percent chance of winning.

“We’re at halftime of the election right now,” Silver explained. “She’s taking a seven-point, maybe a 10-point lead into halftime. There’s a lot of football left to be played. She’s ahead in almost every poll, every swing state, every national poll.” Silver said the only candidate in recent history to blow a lead this big was Michael Dukakis in 1988, who ended up losing to George H.W. Bush.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, Silver expanded on the factors that he considered before making his 2016 prediction. Silver has established a formidable reputation over the last two presidential election cycles. He correctly called 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election and was a perfect 50 for 50 in the 2012 contest. However, Trump proved to be his kryptonite in the primary race. Last September, Silver gave Trump a five percent chance of clinching the nomination, a prediction that last month he admitted he “screwed up.”

“If Trump is ‘unpredictable,’ a phrase we heard used to describe him so often during the primaries,” Silver wrote in the article heralding his prediction, “does that mean his chances of defeating Hillary Clinton are 50/50?” Nope, it doesn’t, Silver reasoned, pointing out that merely looking at current polling data puts Trump’s chances of winning the election at below 20 percent. Only when he added data to his forecasting model that factored in the current economic conditions did Trump’s chances rise above 20 percent. Even then, Trump’s chances are well behind where his two Republican predecessors stood at this stage of the game, according to his model.

“Still, Trump faces longer odds and a bigger polling deficit than John McCain and Mitt Romney did at the same point in their respective races,” Silver wrote.

Read the full story at ABC News and FiveThirtyEight.com.

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