ALBANY — The Stony Brook political scientist who predicted Republican Donald Trump has an 87-percent chance of winning the presidency in November based on historical trends is sticking to his prediction despite daily polls favoring Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Well, I don’t have much choice,” said Helmut Norpoth, professor at Stony Brook University, in an interview Thursday. “I could go into hiding, but I’m sticking with it.”
He said, however, that Trump’s recent missteps have given him some pause for his forecast, which has drawn national attention. He cited Trump’s statement in Wednesday’s debate that he might not accept the result of the November election, which he said is rigged; Trump’s statement in the previous debate that as president he would prosecute Clinton; and several recent accusations of sexual harassment against the Republican.
Trump’s slide in the past three weeks led to Thursday’s RealClearPolitics finding that Clinton had a 6.4 percentage point lead over the Republican in an average of major national polls.
“It’s certainly not helping my forecast, I can admit that,” Norpoth said.
Norpoth’s system, however, has predicted the winner of the popular vote for president for 20 years (http://nwsdy.li/2ax2ySl). His primary model is based on political pendulum swings, incumbency and primary results dating to 1912.
For example, he notes a political party held the White House for three consecutive terms only once in 65 years, when President George H.W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Norpoth dismissed polls as opinions by the few people who agree to be questioned. He noted major polling operations forecast the wrong winners in 2012, showing a late and relatively comfortable lead for Republican Mitt Romney over Democrat Barack Obama.
“Yet having an opinion and acting on it are two different things,” he said in this week’s commentary in The Hill. “Barely 6 in 10 voting age American citizens turn out for presidential elections. Ascertaining the opinions of 100 citizens is just a start. Now you have to determine which 60 of them actually take the time to mark a ballot. They are the ‘likely voters.’ They are the only ones that count. But to find them is no easy chore.”
He noted Thursday, though, that the unpredictable campaign has two more weeks to surprise voters and that could include revelations that hurt Clinton as much as recent mistakes that impacted Trump’s campaign.
“Along the line, I still see some elements at play that could help him and who knows what other shoes are to drop for Hillary Clinton,” he said.