Expert modelers predict Trump reelection after models all point to one result: ‘Mr. Trump wins in all of them’

President Donald Trump … Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Three different forecast modelers are predicting that President Trump is on track to win reelection in 2020, according to a Monday New York Times column by Steven Rattner, an Obama-era administration official.

The models give credence to multiple factors, but key are jobs, economic data, and advantages that an incumbent carries into an election. However, a deciding factor in the election is likely to be the “poor perception” of President Trump by a large segment of the voting population, to include virtually all Democrats.

Rattner’s commentary entitled “Trump’s Formidable 2020 Tailwind,” looks at not only the expectations, but also past performance, which for most has been impressive.

One model, according to Rattner is “one of the first–and perhaps still the best,” by Yale professor Ray Fair. Fair finds “that the growth rates of gross domestic product and inflation have been the two most important economic predictors — but he also found that incumbency was also an important determinant of presidential election outcomes.”

Another of the modelers’ assessments referenced is by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Zandi has himself looked at 12 models and “Mr. Trump wins in all of them.”

Donald Luskin of Trend Macrolytics reaches the same conclusion, examining the Electoral College.

Fair’s model accurately foretold Barack Obama’s 2008 popular vote total within six-tenths of a percentage point, predicting 53.1 percent of the vote that actually came in at 53.7 percent. In 2012, the Fair model did even better, estimating a vote share of 51.8 percent that ended up at 52 percent.

As for 2016, Rattner reported that Trump’s 2016 advantage was the incumbency factor, which would suggest that after eight years of a Democrat in the White House, voters would normally elect a Republican. Note that since 1952, the only person elected from the same party after eight years of a presidency was George H.W. Bush, succeeding Ronald Reagan.

Fair’s model foresaw an electoral victory for Trump in 2016, but overestimated his popular vote share by about 5.5 percentage points. Rattner attributed the discrepancy to Trump’s personal “unfavorables.”

“In other words, a more ‘normal’ Republican would likely have won the popular vote by a substantial margin (instead of losing it by three million votes),” said Rattner.

The Times piece suggests Trump’s 2020 vote share would ordinarily be as high as 56.1 percent. However, the author said, “that’s before factoring in his personality. As recent polls show, if the election were today, he would lose to most of the Democratic hopefuls by a substantial margin; in the case of Joe Biden, by nearly eight percentage points.”

Rattner’s conclusion is that the big question in 2020 will be whether the President can “overcome the majority of voters’ poor perception of him and use a good economy and incumbency to win re-election.”


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