If nothing unusual happens, the president’s Electoral College victory will surpass his 2016 win over Democrat Hillary Clinton, which came by a 304-227 count, according to Moody’s. The models are based on how consumers feel about their own financial situation, the gains the stock market has achieved during Trump’s tenure and the prospects for unemployment, which has fallen to a 50-year low.
The modelling has been highly accurate going back to the 1980 election, missing only once – in 2016 when Trump was elected. The authors attributed the error to “unexpected turnout patterns” in Trump’s favour and they adjusted for that in the latest projections. They also said they will be updating the projections as conditions develop and change.
“If the economy a year from now is the same as it is today, or roughly so, then the power of incumbency is strong and Trump’s election odds are very good, particularly if Democrats aren’t enthusiastic and don’t get out to vote,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and co-author of the paper along with Dan White, the firm’s director of government consulting and fiscal policy research, and Bernard Yaros, an assistant director and economist. “It’s about turnout.”
The report was highly appreciated by Trump in his Twitter, who said that it “looks good” to him.
Three models show Trump getting at least 289 electoral votes, assuming average turnout. His chances decrease with the maximum turnout on the Democratic side and increase with minimum turnout expected.
Of the three models, he does best under the “pocketbook” measure of how people feel about their finances. In that scenario, assuming average non-incumbent turnout, he gets 351 electoral votes to the generic Democrat’s 187. “Record turnout is vital to a Democratic victory,” the report said.
“Our ‘pocket¬book’ model is the most economically driven of the three. If voters were to vote primarily on the basis of their pocketbooks, the president would steamroll the competition,” the report said. “This shows the importance that prevailing economic sentiment at the household level could hold in the next election.”
Even though the president’s ratings have been at the low point of 40% in the latest Gallup poll, they have been relatively stable throughout Trump’s presidency, providing a good benchmark for how he will do once election time comes.
Zandi said the race could come down to a few key counties in Pennsylvania, which Trump flipped in 2016 after the state had voted Democrat in the previous five presidential elections. Specifically, he said Luzerne County, in the northeast part of the state, “is the single-most-important county, no kidding, in the entire election.” The longtime Democratic stronghold favoured Trump, 51.8% to 46.8% in the election.