These Models Predicted Trump’s Victory in 2016; Here’s What They Say for 2020

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 9, 2020

Hillary Clinton headed into Election Day in 2016 with a lead in the polls so significant that even the establishment media outlets viewed the Democratic presidential nominee’s victory as all but certain.

At the same time, a number of predictive models, three of which were highlighted by The Epoch Times before the election, against all odds forecasted a victory for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Ahead of the 2020 election, two models again point to a Trump victory, despite the polls, while another is forecasting, with a significant question mark, a narrow victory for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

S&P 500

In 9 out of the 10 elections in which the market return was above average, the candidate from the incumbent party was reelected. That included 2016, when the S&P returned 11.9 percent in the year leading up to the election, predicting a victory by Trump.

The S&P 500 return in 2016 was nearly identical to the average return for all the election years when a Republican was elected president—11.8 percent.

Despite the economic downturn caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and the related lockdowns, the S&P 500 is up 19 percent on Oct. 9. If the index continues to pace upward, or remains at above 11.8 percent growth, the S&P 500 is again pointing to a Trump victory.

The Primary Model

In 2016, Helmut Norpoth made waves after forecasting an 87 percent chance of victory for Trump and getting it right. Norpoth made the prediction on March 7, 2016, eight months before Election Day.

The Primary Model has picked winning candidates in 25 out of the 27 presidential elections since 1912. The model missed in 1960, one of the closest presidential elections, and 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but George Bush won Florida amid a recount.

In 2020, the model gives Trump an even higher chance of winning—91 percent—than in 2016. This year, Norpoth calibrated the model to predict the electoral college result, forecasting 362 electoral votes for Trump and 176 for Biden.

Keys to the White House

Professor Alan Lichtman correctly predicted a Trump victory in 2016 using a model he developed in collaboration with a Soviet scientist who specialized in predicting earthquakes.

The model is a true-or-false test on a list of 13 keys about the incumbent administration and the challenger. If five or fewer of the keys are false, the incumbent party wins.

The keys include factors like whether “after the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections.” For the 2020 election, this key is false, since Democrats gained seats in the House in November 2018.

In 2020, Lichtman is predicting that Biden will win, but the prediction appears to be victim to a subjective judgment on two of the keys.

On key number 11, Lichtman rules that Trump has achieved no “major success in foreign or military affairs.” The assessment does not explain why the eradication of the ISIS caliphate and the withdrawal of troops from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq cannot be counted as major military successes. Lichtman likewise doesn’t explain why he discounted the Trump administration brokering the signing of the Abraham accords, arguably the biggest breakthrough toward peace in the Middle East in decades.

And on key number 12, Lichtman rules that Trump is not “charismatic or a national hero,” an assessment which would be hard to defend before the Republican party, where his approval has steadily held in the mid- to high- 80s.

With the charisma and foreign affairs keys flipped for Trump, the model would swing in favor of the president’s reelection.

Lichtman2020, an election model which builds on Lichtman’s keys to make an Electoral College forecast, disagreed with the professor on this assessment. Like Lichtman, the model does not award Trump a point on the “foreign or military affairs” key. As of Aug. 14, the Lichtman2020 model predicted a narrow 279-259 victory for Biden.

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