At this point, several people have asked me for my analysis and predictions of this year’s presidential contest. Apparently they thought the analyses and predictions I gave in 2008 and 2012 were cogent and ended up being reasonably accurate. So I thought I would share my predictions this year.
I have attempted to do this as dispassionately as possible, and not biased by what I want to happen.1 I am ignoring the possibility of Trump dropping out or being forced out before the election; this is entirely around the situation as it currently presents itself. These statements should all be preceded by “I think”, but I’ve left the words out for brevity’s sake.
There is a 5% chance that Clinton will win in a landslide like Nixon beat McGovern in 1972. That is, losing only one or two states, putting her at over 500 electoral votes.
There is a 50% chance that Clinton will win handily. That is, somewhere between 330 and 500 electoral votes. This is where Obama was in 2008, and where he barely was in 2012.
There is a 20% chance that Clinton will win barely. That is, somewhere around 270 to 330 electoral votes. This is where it starts to get into “disputable” territory, and it’s almost guaranteed that there will be allegations of fraud, or even a recount of some sort.
In the case where Clinton wins barely, I put odds at 75% that Trump will not give a concession speech (frankly, I think there’s a 10% chance he won’t even if Clinton wins in a landslide). I also put odds at 65% that there will be riots by his supporters, which he may very well encourage, especially if it’s a very close election.
There is a 25% chance that Trump will win the election. I don’t think he will win handily or in a landslide, but I admit there’s an outside possibility. I think it’s a mistake to put the odds of his victory too low based on polls—even after fancy analysis like Nate Silver does—because I think there are a chunk of Trump supporters that feel as though social pressure inhibits them from openly admitting their support for Trump, but will express it in a voting booth.2
I also think that Russia will try to hack and influence this election in order to elect Trump, since a Trump presidency would give Russia the immense ability to go to war in Europe unopposed.
In the case where Trump wins, I put odds at 50% that there will still be riots. However, they’re going to largely targeted at immigrants and non-white people, and the neighborhoods that have large proportions of either.
Also in the case where Trump wins, I put the odds at 25% that there will be at least one attempted assassination of him before inauguration day. If the military or secret service is involved—a 50% possibility in my mind—then it will almost certainly succeed; if they aren’t, then I have no idea how likely it is to succeed. Either way, it will likely (75% chance) spark riots.
I think a Clinton presidency will only last four years. I’m not sure if she’d even run again for a second term; and even if she did, I think there’s a good (greater than 50%) likelihood she will have a strong opponent in the primary—probably someone with a youth and vigor to contrast with her, and probably more along the lines of Bernie Sanders in viewpoint. If she does go up for a second term in the general election, though, history would put a lot of weight on her challenger winning. All of this is of course subject to what happens during those four years.
As for a Trump presidency, I think there is a 95% chance that there will be global thermonuclear war, almost guaranteed to be started by Trump. I put very low odds on the survival of the human race in the event of a Trump presidency. As for what will cause the global thermonuclear war, I think there’s a 75% chance it will be because of a petty comment the leader of some other country says about him, and a 25% chance that it will be a disproportionate response to a military or terrorist incident.
As such, I don’t think there’s likely to be an American president after Trump. I hope—if he wins—that I am wrong.
I think this was distinctly easier in 2008, because I didn’t actually have a strong opinion about either major candidate, and instead did a write-in. ↩
On the other hand, I also think there’s a sizable portion of women who are wives of die-hard Trump supporters and either keep their mouth shut or pretend to be Trump supporters, but once they get into a voting booth will end up voting for Clinton. ↩