Professor Helmut Norpoth has been predicting presidential election results for a long time using a model that dates back to 1912. That model, according to Norpoth, has had a nearly-unblemished success rate in that time, only getting JFK’s 1960 win over Richard Nixon wrong in 104 years of use. And if that level of accuracy is still worth anything in a year as unpredictable as this one, Norpoth says Donald Trump could very well be the next president of the United States.
“The bottom line is that the primary model, using also the cyclical movement, makes it almost certain that Donald Trump will be the next president,” Norpoth, a political science professor at Stony Brook University, said this week.
According to Norpoth, Trump – should he secure the Republican nomination – has somewhere between a 97% and a 99% chance of winning the general election. In a matchup with Hillary Clinton, the model suggests that Trump would take 54.7% of the popular vote, meaning his victory in the electoral college would be virtually assured.
“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke,” the professor said. “Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore.”
Norpoth also said that Republicans had a 61% chance of taking back the White House, regardless of whether or not Trump was the nominee.
How quickly things have changed. It wasn’t long ago that the pundit class was not only predicting that Clinton would win the Democratic nomination, but that she had a lock on the White House. With an overcrowded Republican field and a frontrunner who had split the party, conservatives would have to resign themselves to another four years of Obama policies.
Prediction models or no prediction models, nothing is certain, even now. But Clinton has stumbled badly, she’s failed to generate any palpable excitement for her candidacy, and Republican turnout has been immense. If these patterns persist into the general, she’s as good as done for. And she isn’t helping, embracing the president at a time when the country is clamoring for change on both sides of the political spectrum.
Of course, even if we took the great leap of saying that Republican victory was assured, we can’t necessarily say what that means for the future of the country. Yes, anyone who gets into office and puts some of Obama’s worst policies in the trash is going to improve things. But we’ve been burned before. Once all of the excitement is over, we must put pressure on our next president to live up to his goals.