Moody’s model gives Dem candidate advantage in 2016

The Democratic presidential nominee will win the race for the presidency, but the election is shaping up as historically tight, according to a political model. 

Less than 11 months from Election Day, Moody’s Analytics is predicting that whomever lands the Democratic nomination will capture the White House with 326 electoral votes to the Republican nominee’s 212. 

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Those results are heavily dependent on how swing states vote. The latest model from Moody’s reflects razor-thin margins in the five most important swing states — Florida, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia. 

In each of those states, the Democratic advantage is less than 1 percentage point, well within the margin of error.

The election model weighs political and economic strength in each state and determines the share of the vote that the incumbent party will win.

The most important economic variable in the model is the growth in incomes in the two years leading up to the election. 

That factor captures the strength of the job market in each state, including job growth, hours worked, wage growth and the quality of the jobs being created. 

The model also factors in home and gasoline prices. 

So far, the strength of the economy has kept the model on track for the Democratic nominee.

But the trajectory of the president’s approval rating also makes a difference in who could win the White House. 

If President Obama’s approval rating shifts only a little more than 4 percentage points, a bit more than the margin of error for many presidential opinion polls, the move could further cut into Democratic hopes to retain the White House. 

Growing concern about terrorism and other issues could dent Obama’s approval rating further.

Usually, if the sitting president’s approval rating is improving in the year leading up the election, the incumbent party receives a boost. 

But in most elections, the president’s rating has declined in the lead-up to the election, favoring the challenger party.