Helmut Norpoth, a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, has devised a “statistical model” that gives Donald Trump a 99% chance of beating Bernie Sanders in the 2016 general election. When paired up against Hillary Clinton, Trump comes away with a 97% chance of winning that match-up. Trump is, therefore, the odds-on favorite to win the election, according to this professor and his model.
The Daily Mail—Reports that Norpoth’s model has only been wrong once since it was first applied in 1912, 96.1% of the time. The Mail was quick to point out that “the numbers don’t lie” for Professor Norpoth.
Now I’m sure many of you are thinking, “wait a minute! Haven’t I seen this story about near-certain prediction models in other occasions, only for other candidates in the 2016 election?” The answer is yes.
Last December, we here at Bipartisan Report broke a story about Hillary Clinton being the “odds-on favorite” to win in November, according to bookies at Predictwise, who have been right 91% of the time in their predictions. We also broke a story in January about Western Illinois University’s 100% accurate mock-election, which gave the favor to Bernie Sanders by a landslide.
So what does this say about all these odds and forecasts? It simply says that at least two near-perfect predictors of presidential elections will have been wrong by the time November comes around. Point being, when all is said and done, we have no idea who the hell is going to be in the Oval Office after Obama leaves next January. Nobody really ever “knows” this for certain until the ballots are cast in November.
Yet every month it seems that somebody is ready to emerge, giving us a nearly certain prediction that they know who the next president is going to be before the ballots are actually cast. And how could you not trust them? Aren’t they “experts?” Don’t they “get it right” most of the time? All of these questions are difficult to answer when you have 3 “almost-always-right” expert predictors giving you a completely different answer each time. Who do you believe?
My answer is absolutely none of them. As terrifying as this is for many people to accept in an election cycle, there is nobody alive who can predict the future with “100 percent” accuracy. It doesn’t matter how “complicated” the math is, or how “smart” the person making the prediction is. There are moments when laying your money on hyper-rational models, in order to determine future outcomes, borders on superstition. This is one of those moments.
So if your own chosen candidate doesn’t bode well in one of these forecasts, stop heading the words of supposed soothsayers like Professor Norpoth, who states the following regarding his prediction:
‘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.’
The possibility of Trump becoming our President is very real. Don’t get me wrong. His campaign has been remarkably successful in the GOP primaries thus far. But there are still many states and many months to go in this process. There is no telling what will happen between now and then. At the end of all this, Trump could still go down as one of the biggest jokes ever played on the American people.
All you can really do to alleviate the terror that uncertainty brings, however, is find a candidate who you believe should win. Once you’ve found that candidate, donate your time and money to volunteering and actually voting for them when the ballot is in front of you. You may or may not be successful by the time the votes are cast, but at least you can leave knowing you did everything you could as an individual to make what you want to happen a reality. This is what I have done myself consistently throughout this election cycle.
Frankly, I follow the mantra of Han Solo in an asteroid field every time somebody shows me these predictions: “Never tell me the odds!” I think it’s fair to say more of us should be like Han Solo during election cycles, rather than annoying protocol droids demanding people to follow the odds. You’re never too old to learn a thing or two from watching Star Wars.