Pre-Election Predictions

What's happening?

You may have heard there's an election on Tuesday. Here's how you can have the most impact:


Make a plan to vote. Look up your polling place ahead of time and check out what will be on your ballot.


Encourage others to vote. Using publicly available data, you can find out which of your friends might not turn out to vote and reach out to remind them.

Why is it important?

The outcomes on Tuesday—on the federal, state, and local levels—will have significant and lasting effects on the American economy and society.


Despite the mistaken and surprisingly widespread idea that this election "isn't about policy," policies are at stake on taxes, health care, immigration, climate change, and foreign affairs, not to mention at least one nomination to the Supreme Court. 


Beyond the vote tally, voter turnout itself is crucial for the health of a representative democracy. In 2012, 53.6% of eligible Americans voted, landing U.S. voter turnout 31st among its 35 OECD peer countries

Debate it!

What to expect on Tuesday night: Who will win the 2016 presidential election?


Hillary Clinton is ahead in national polls and election forecasts—and early voting shows enthusiasm and support for a Clinton presidency.  


Estimates give Clinton a range of 65%-85% chance of winning. These estimates based on polling, demographic information and, in some, economic data. They account for high degrees of uncertainty. In other words, they include the variables that might allow a Trump win and still hold strong for Clinton.


Clinton is ahead by 1.2 percentage points in Florida. Winning Florida would likely make it impossible for Trump to win. It require a Herculean effort by Trump supporters in unlikely states like Pennsylvania. Winning North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, or Georgia would have a similar effect. The opposite is not true: if Trump wins Florida, there are still 34 paths to a Clinton presidency to Trump's 17


Early polling looks good for Clinton. Less regular "low-propensity" voters are showing up in North Carolina, a good sign for her. Though not a clear indication of election-day results, these numbers support the prediction from previous polling estimates: a Hillary Clinton White House come January 2017.


Donald Trump is being underestimated. Though most estimates hold his chances between 16% (from the New York Times) and 35% (from FiveThirtyEight), there are several ways Trump can win—and it's worth putting money on that he will.


One important variable in a Trump win is the idea of a 'silent majority.' There may be a significant group of working-class white male Americans who, fed up with economic struggles and lack of recognition, support Trump in higher numbers than polls suggest. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on why polls might be skewed: "it's because it's become socially desirable, if you're a college-educated person in the United States of America, to say that you're against Donald Trump." In this case, Trump could win Florida and Ohio and breach the "blue wall" of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. 


Another much-discussed variable is the influence of third-party candidates. In particular, Gary Johnson could act as a Clinton spoiler in Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire, which would put Trump at over the necessary 270 electoral college votes.


After all, the Cubs had a smaller chance of winning the World Series than Trump does of winning the presidency. 

Learn more...

  1. The New York Times' election forecast
    • Hillary Clinton: 84%
    • Donald Trump: 16%
  2. FiveThirtyEight's election forecast
    • Hillary Clinton: 64.9%
    • Donald Trump: 35.1%
  3. Rock the Vote on how to prepare for Tuesday's election
    • Answers to: Where is my polling place and what are my early voting options? What do I bring? What's on my ballot?
  4. Vote With Me on how to help your friends vote
    • Answers to: Are your friends going to vote? Do they know where to vote? Or who they are voting for up and down the ballot?