Professor uses election forecast model to predict presidential election

Photo by Collin Cooper

This year’s presidential election winner will be Hillary Clinton, according to an election forecast model presented by Jay DeSart, associate professor of political science at UVU.

According to DeSart’s forecast, Clinton has a 90.3 percent probability of winning the Electoral College vote. The DeSart-Holbrok election forecast model was developed by DeSart and Thomas Holbrok, professor of government at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. DeSart’s model has accurately predicted the outcome of every election since 2004.

DeSart presented his election forecast model during an hour-long presentation Oct. 3 at the UVU library.

DeSart first published his forecasting model in 1999 in the International Journal of Forecasting. DeSart then put his forecasting model to the test during the 2000 election, but his model failed.

DeSart said that no one could predict the Florida vote recount and the ballot issues that ultimately tilted the election the other way. However, his model accurately predicted Al Gore winning the popular vote in the 2000 election.

“My bias isn’t an ideological one, my bias is towards being right. I’m doing this purely as an academic exercise. Can we predict the outcome? I don’t cherry-pick the polls, I look at all the polls,” DeSart said.

DeSart generates his forecasting model by predicting elections at the state level. He analyzes polls from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and then extends the application to a national level. After figuring out which candidate is going to win a state, DeSart then applies the electoral vote to each of those winners.

Finally, he tallies the numbers to determine which candidate gets to 270 electoral votes, which is the number of votes needed to win the election.

“It’s what happens in the states that actually matters, and so that’s why we focused our efforts on state-level predictions,” DeSart said.

DeSart predicts that Clinton will receive 326 electoral votes, and the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, will receive 212 electoral votes.

“This is my first time hearing about an election forecast. I just barely turned 18 so elections are pretty new to me. I feel like it has a lot of potential to be correct, but we don’t know all the circumstances. We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and the actual election, but it’s a pretty safe bet,” said Janie DeFriez, a student at UVU.

Britton Jensen, a junior at UVU said,“I still have hope and faith that Donald Trump will be the winner. It will be a great upset most likely if he does win, but if he doesn’t it will be something that was worth fighting for.”

Clinton could lose some of the key battleground states like Ohio and still win the election, DeSart said. Clinton has a pretty nice cushion, according to DeSart’s forecasting model, which is bad news for Trump supporters.

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