Helmut Norpoth, a political science professor at Stony Brook University in New York State, is defying seemingly all national polling data by predicting Republican nominee Donald Trump has an 87-99 percent chance of taking the White House.
Norpoth, who is strongly cautioning against our current “bunk” polling measures, has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1996. Further, his election model has predicted every presidential election winner since 1912, save the 1960 election.
“The American Voter Revisited” co-author explains that the current polling system fails on two fronts, 1.) ineffective “opinion” polling and 2.) excluding those who refuse to participate in polling surveys, citing inaccurate polling predictions by Gallop and Rasmussen in 2012.
In his column for The Hill, Norpoth first goes after opinion polls:
“To start with something basic, opinion polls are really about ‘opinions,’ not actions. At their best, they can tell us how people feel about political issues and personalities. Do voters, for instance, like or dislike candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?” he writes.
“Yet having an opinion and acting on it are two different things,” Norpoth continues. “Barely 6 in 10 voting-age American citizens turn out for presidential elections. Ascertaining the opinions of 100 citizens is just a start. Now you have to determine which 60 of them actually take the time to mark a ballot. They are the ‘likely voters.’ They are the only ones that count. But to find them is no easy chore.”
Norpoth also points out that pollsters completely ignore those who refuse to participate in their polling measures.
“Failure to respond is another Achilles heel for pre-election polls,” he argues. “It is rampant in polls conducted over the telephone, still the most common means of getting respondents.”
Most all polling organizations do not report the response rate, or, “the percentage of respondents selected by some form of probability sampling who actually completed the interview,” asserts the professor. “Participation can be as low as 1 in 10 because the vast majority of those who are called do not answer poll questions.”
Norpoth even points to recent election exit polling, the data collected from surveys taken right after someone votes on Election Day, which revealed a Kerry win in 2004. But, of course, he did not win, and the number of failed-to-respond voters inaccurately skewed the data in favor of Kerry.
“So hold off on trusting poll-driven proclamations of a Clinton victory just yet,” cautioned Norpoth. “Voters have a way of always getting the last word.”
Currently, the Real Clear Politics average shows Trump down by Clinton by 6.4 points, and down at least 5 points when including Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.