Prior to the first actual primary voting in New Hampshire (but after the Iowa Caucuses), I thought I’d show my forecasting ability (or lack thereof) by making some predictions on the outcome of the US presidential election process. Note that I’m not saying what I want to happen, just what I think will happen.
I wrote the first draft of this back in November, a year before Election Day 2016 in the US. [For those not in the US, yes, Americans really do spend more than a year getting ready for an election!] There have been some changes since then. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy has been growing in strength, but he still seems like a long-shot to defeat Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, for the Republicans, Donald Trump continues to lead in the polls, while Ben Carson has faded and Ted Cruz has been rising. Still, I’ll stick with the same (unpublished) predictions I had in November.
Presidential / Vice Presidential nominees
Democratic – Hillary Clinton / John Hickenlooper
Clinton is still the obvious choice and heavy favorite. There seems little chance (to me) that she won’t get the nomination. Sanders is likely to win in New Hampshire, but Clinton will, I think, win the nomination.
Forecasting her choice for VP is trickier. Conventional wisdom says that she should choose someone younger, possibly non-white, and likely from a “battleground” state. [See explanation at the bottom about this.] It’s unlikely that she’ll find someone who matches all three of those. John Hickenlooper is currently the popular governor of Colorado and he’s my guess for her choice. Others I considered include Julian Castro, Cory Booker, and Tom Vilsack. I’ll consider myself moderately prescient if any of those is actually the choice.
Republican – Marco Rubio / Nikki Haley
I don’t think Donald Trump is likely to get the nomination. When actual voting starts in many states, I think that he will fade (though I’ve thought this since last summer and it isn’t really happening yet). In addition, the nomination process makes it fairly difficult for a candidate with extreme positions to get nominated, even if that candidate gets the most votes in the primary. [This article describes the process and how it benefits a moderate candidate.] That makes it unlikely (in my view) that Ted Cruz will get the nomination. Jeb Bush seems to be a really poor national candidate with little strong support. Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina are struggling to get any sustained support.
That leaves (in my opinion) a battle between Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Kasich has struggled to get media attention (or strong poll results), but that may turn-around soon. Meanwhile, Rubio has been recognized (at least in the media) as a preferred choice for the Republican establishment. Rubio has gotten some criticism in the past week for his robot-like adherence to talking points and it’s possible that will drag him down. However, I expect the visibility of that to fade and be forgotten and I think he will be the nominee.
Rubio comes from Florida – one of the two biggest battleground states. An obvious VP choice would be Kasich, since Ohio is the other big battleground state. However, I think Rubio will emphasize youth and simultaneously try to appeal to women voters by choosing Nikki Haley, 43-year old Indian American who is the Governor of South Carolina. Rubio is 44 years old and will try to make Clinton’s age (she’s 68) an issue.
Presidential Election results
As noted below, the results of the U.S. presidential election are based on electoral votes. Each state gets a specified number of electoral votes, equal to the number of people that state has in Congress (two senators + representatives based on population). California (the most populous state) has the most at 55; the least populated states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and the District of Columbia) each have 3. The winner of the most votes in a state gets all the electoral votes for that state.
Presidential results (electoral votes):
- Clinton – 303 electoral votes
- Rubio – 235 electoral votes
Caveat – if the Republican nominee is Trump, Cruz or (however unlikely) Carson, I expect that Clinton will win by a considerable larger margin:
- Clinton – 347 electoral votes
- Republican nominee– 191 electoral votes
So, there it is – I believe that, in January 2017, the US will inaugurate its first ever female president – Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What’s a Battleground State?
The presidential election is the US is based on winners in each state, rather than the overall total number of votes. Because of this, states that are closely divided between Republican and Democratic votes are hotly contested. There are fewer than a dozen of these “battleground” states. Having someone from one of those states on the ballot is widely viewed as beneficial to winning that state.