Archive for January, 2016

The Election No One Can Win

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2016 by thebluebros

I am sure you have heard by now that Donald Trump cannot win the presidential election in November. It simply is not possible. But have you also heard that Ted Cruz cannot win? And neither can Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. On the Democratic side it looks no better. Bernie Sanders absolutely cannot win a general election, but neither can Hillary Clinton. The thing is though, someone has to win.

This time of the election cycle is usually filled with the media and voters discussing, debating, and arguing over who should be our next president. In any democracy, these conversations are important, worthwhile, and hopefully productive most of the time.

In 2016, however, we are having fewer discussions of who should be president, and devoting an annoyingly huge amount of time on who can be president. As the above links demonstrate, there are a whole host of people willing to write articles and go on the airwaves to confidently announce that a particular candidate “cannot” win. And most of these forecasters are not even couching their beliefs with qualifiers such as “probably” or “most likely.” Many of these pundits will claim to “know” what is going to happen.

People who want to make these certain or near-certain predictions are forgetting a key thing: 2016 is a lot different from prior election cycles. The landscape is already littered with the carcasses of pundits who have been proven wrong. Actually, that last sentence reflects a hope as opposed to reality. We all know there is no cost to making wrong predictions in the political world. Fact is, bold predictions generate a lot of clicks, and getting proven wrong later is a detail most people don’t care about.

To demonstrate just how impossible it is to predict what is going to happen in 2016, keep in mind that Nate Silver—who most consider to be the most reliable political forecaster—repeatedly said back in August and September that Trump would “lose the nomination.” Silver gave Trump just a 5% chance of winning his party’s nomination, and a much lower chance of winning the general election. Silver also repeatedly compared Donald Trump to flash-in-the-pan candidates like Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann who held the lead in the 2012 GOP primary for a week or two before flaming out. Now that Trump has been leading in the polls for more than six months, Nate Silver is predicting Trump to win the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary—a feat no Republican has ever accomplished who not already president. Looks like Mr. Silver got a little too sure of his own powers of prediction.

If Nate Silver can get it wrong, so can you. And so can your preferred pundit.

People looking for a real assessment of a candidate’s chances of winning the White House in 2016 should look to bookies—you know, people who actually put their money where their mouth is. For instance, if you want to place a bet on this election, you can go to a site like www.paddypower.com. Below are the odds paddypower gives the six candidates listed above of winning the White House?

  • Hillary Clinton – 47.6%
  • Donald Trump – 25.0%
  • Marco Rubio – 14.3%
  • Bernie Sanders – 12.5%
  • Ted Cruz – 5.3%
  • Jeb Bush – 4.8%

I realize these odds do not add up to exactly 100% because they are betting odds, but it gives you a sense of how Vegas assesses these candidates’ chances, and I have a whole lot more faith in them than I do someone looking to get noticed on CNN (not that I have much faith even in Vegas in a year like this). Moreover, no one knows with any certainty what is going to happen, as I explained in detail a few months ago. Looking to all of the pundits who wrote the political obituaries for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump six months ago, my assessment on this point has not changed.

In 2016, shut-out the ever-droning pundits who want to click-bait you to death with their predictions. Vote your conscience—at least in the primaries.

-Dylan