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Lauded election model predicts Trump over Clinton: creators deny its accuracy

June 15, 2016

Image: flickr_MaxGoldberg

"Honest Abe is a liar!"

The Abramowitz model, created by Emory University's acclaimed political scientist Alan Abramowitz(0 points for naming creativity), is one of the most widely credited and respected political forecasting models in the world. Widely lauded for its quantitative accuracy and keen inclusion of qualitative factors, the Abramowitz model, which is also known as the 'Time for Change' model, has been recognized for accurately pinpointing every presidential election winner since 1992. Not only does it point out the winning name with alarming precision, it also prompts an average margin of error of less than one point. 

 

Honest Abe did just what he was created to do when he recently spit out his predicted outcome for the coming head to head joust between presumptive Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and the American Wall-Builder's Association's runner of choice, Republican candidate Donald Trump. The result, Donald Trump was pronounced the winner by a fairly comfortable margin(chime the champagne-pops in Trump Tower).

 Clinton vs Trump poll as of June/Image: Huffingtonpost

 

Given the polarizing nature of the entire 2016 presidential election and the oftentimes ludicrous albeit selectively magnetic persona that Trump upholds, it's not surprising that the model's results don't sit well with everyone. But things took a turn for the awkward when Abe's father, Alan Abramowitz himself, denounced his own creation as inaccurate. 

 

According to Vox, the Abramowitz model makes predictions based on a wide assessment of the zeitgeist of the times, taking into account factors such as the economy(measured by the GDP growth rate of the second quarter of the election year), the popularity of the incumbent president (measured by his Gallup approval rating at the end of June), and whether the incumbent is running for reelection. Now according to the model, if the stagnant first quarter GDP growth rate of 0.8% continues and Gallup's +9 net approval rating for Obama is maintained on a relatively similar level, than Trump will emerge victorious with a 51.3% to 48.7% ousting of Clinton. Were the GDP growth to shoot up exponentially to 3%, the model would still project a Trump victory. 

 Abramowitz doesn't believe his own model/Image: Twitter

 

If this fact bedazzled you, it sure came as a shock to Alan Abramowitz. He quickly announced that his formerly fool-proof model is actually wrong this year and that Clinton will take an easy win over the controversial billionaire- turned-politician. The political scientist said via an interview with Vox that "the model is based on the assumption that the parties are going to nominate mainstream candidates who will be able to unite the party, and that the outcome will be similar to a generic vote, a generic vote for a generic Democrat versus a generic Republican"(Hefty usage of repetition denotes a clear personal preference. No question who Alan's routing for in November). 

 


So Alan basically thinks that the circumstances behind this election is way too deviant from "normal" conditions for the model to produce a reasonable assumption. Everyone knows that Trump isn't a "mainstream" candidate as he continues to amaze us with his unconventional strategies and questionable statements. He's now apparently shattering the credibility of acute political forecasting models. "It would not shock me if he ends up losing and if Clinton wins the election by a very comfortable margin," Abramowitz added.

A Pandora's box waiting to explode/Image: rawconservative

 

The word around town is that 2016 will be a disastrous year for forecasts in general. They are valuable given that the election in question is similar to past elections in terms of candidate quality, campaign tactics and party coalitions. So if we had a pretty "generic" (though admittedly, less entertaining) batch of candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney that adhere to the Republican party's line of sanctioned policies, these models are good to go and we might as well not even bother to vote.

 

However, Trump is many things but "generic" isn't one of them. A candidate who wants to build a wall in the southern border to keep out "rapists", calls a judge born in Indiana unfit to judge him because he was "Mexican", wants to ban all Muslims from entering the nation and "appreciates the congrats" for being "right" after the deadliest shooting in the country's history, is simply, unexplainable. But scary thing, it actually might be us who are being fooled by Trump's soundbites and anti-everything rhetoric.

Breaker of forecast models/Image: metrotimes

 

On a purely quantitative standpoint, this man with the rocking hair-do has singlehandedly won almost every Republican primary thus far by a wide margin, and to discount his inexorably convincing polls based on his extreme stances, inexperience and alienation from other party members, might be overlooking the model's holistic insight. With other analytics such as Moody's predicting a Clinton victory, the upcoming 2016 election is definitely a Pandora's box. We will never know what happens until it does. Yes, we love to hate Trump and it's tempting to write off 2016 as an anomaly. But let's play devil's advocate. Abramowitz's model might in fact be showing us valid numbers and Trump is comfortably en route to surprising the world come November. Check your seat-belts everyone, it's going to be one hell of a ride. 

 

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