Presidential races

Election model predicts big win for Clinton

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Hillary Clinton is projected to easily win the White House, according to the final installment of a closely followed economic election model from Moody’s Analytics.
A week from Election Day, the latest model, on Tuesday, forecast Clinton winning 332 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 206.
{mosads}If Clinton won 332 electoral votes, it would match President Obama’s 2012 total but would be less than the 365 electoral votes Obama won in 2008.
President Obama’s strong popularity — which is as high as President Ronald Reagan’s when he left office nearly 28 years ago — combined with low gas prices are boosting Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.
Both of the components are figuring more heavily in this election than in previous contests, Moody’s said. 
Still, this year’s race is out of the ordinary, and there are factors that could play into the final outcome that simply can’t be measured by an economic model. 
“Given the unusual nature of the 2016 election cycle to date, it is very possible that voters will react to changing economic and political conditions differently than they have in past election cycles, placing some risk in the model outcome, particularly state-by-state projections,” said Dan White, a Moody’s economist who compiles the monthly model.
The Moody’s model — which picks a party, not a candidate — has predicted every election correctly since it was created in 1980. 
This cycle’s model has forecast a Democratic victory since the release of its first forecast in July 2015.
“As much as economists would like to believe that economics have the final word in elections, in most states politics still matter more,” White said.  
“Most states tend to vote consistently Democrat or Republican, regardless of whatever other forces might be at play,” he said.
The final map shows the Democrat winning swing states like Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania, all of which would help lift Clinton past the 270 electoral votes she needs to win the election. 
To balance out those factors, the model includes several political variables, the most important of which is the share of the vote that went to the incumbent party in the previous election. 
In swing states, however, the share of the vote that goes to the incumbent party is usually close to 50 percent, making other variables, especially the economic ones, extremely important.
The other political variables in the model largely cancel each other out. Voter fatigue and Obama being a Democrat weigh on Clinton’s chances. 
The three economic variables that prove to be most significant in explaining state-level voter behavior are the two-year percentage changes in real personal income, house prices and gasoline prices. 
“Historically, the electorate balks at giving either political party a stay in the White House of more than two consecutive terms, and statistical evidence, both in our model and other independent studies, shows that Democrats are more likely to vote against an incumbent of their own party than are Republicans,” White said. 
But the surge in Obama’s approval rating this year — no incumbent president since Reagan in 1988 has experienced an eighth-year surge anywhere close to this president — is largely offsetting the typical anti-incumbent sentiment.
The president’s approval rating is holding in the mid-50s heading into the election. 
Republicans won the White House in 1988 election, the last time the incumbent party was able to hold on to the White House for a third consecutive term.
“Although anything can happen in an election year, especially this election year, economic and political conditions clearly point to a Democratic victory in 2016 in a race pitted between two generic candidates,” White said.
“However, these are no generic candidates, a fact likely to keep us all on our toes well into the evening of Nov. 8.”
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