President Obama’s strong approval rating is bolstering Democratic chances of holding the White House, according to a closely followed election model.

Moody’s Analytics is forecasting that the Democratic nominee, who is widely expected to be Hillary Clinton, will win the presidency in November over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

{mosads}“President Obama’s approval rating has crossed over the important 50 percent threshold for the first time in almost four years,” said Dan White, a Moody’s economist who oversees the model.  

Aside from rising gasoline prices, a drop in Obama’s approval rating is the only model variable that could possibly move far and fast enough to push the model in Republicans’ favor by November, White said.

“This sudden surge could be a result of the messy primary season or a relative lull in geopolitical news from overseas,” White said.

Moody’s latest model shows for the third straight month that the Democratic nominee would take 332 electoral votes compared with 206 for the Republican nominee. The model has predicted every election correctly since it was created in 1980.

Democrats also are running ahead, although by narrow margins, in the key swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Nevada.

The model has predicted a Democratic victory in 2016 since its first forecast was released in July 2015.

The president’s approval rating is a first-time variable added into the model for this election cycle and White said it has proven significant historically, “and back-tested extremely well, particularly in other atypical election cycles.”

He cited the 1988 election, when Republicans pulled off the rare feat of winning the White House for three straight terms. 

“In light of the myriad unusual factors swirling around this election, its inclusion may prove particularly prudent in 2016,” White said.

The latest Gallup poll for May 9-15 shows the president’s approval at 51 percent.

If Obama’s approval rating holds, the two-year increase in favorability running up to the election would surpass even that of President Reagan’s at the end of the Cold War, White said.

White explained that the model measures the two-year change in the approval rating running up to election day.

The model appears to be at odds with some national polling that shows a tight presidential race.

Clinton leads Trump by single digits in a New York Times/CBS News poll released on Thursday. She leads the businessman by 6 points, 47 to 41 percent, among registered voters in a hypothetical general election matchup.

Two other polls this week — from Fox News and Rasmussen Reports — showed Trump with a single-digit lead.

Moody’s model awards Electoral College votes to each party based on state-by-state outcomes.

The most important economic variable is income growth by state, including job and wage growth, hours worked and the quality of the jobs being created in the two years leading up to an election. The model also factors in home and gasoline prices on a state level, as well as the presidential approval numbers.

The Moody’s equation also includes an additional dummy variable that penalizes Democrat incumbents, stemming from the theory that Democrats and Democrat-leaning independent voters are more likely to switch sides and vote for a Republican candidate than vice versa. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Moody's Analytics

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