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The presidential election is one year out. Why predictions are more reliable than polls when picking a winner

Molly Wheeler, Hinckley Institute of Politics managing director of community outreach, sets up an interactive candidate prediction board during an election watch party at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

In 2015, Northeastern University associate professor of political science Nick Beauchamp predicted that Donald Trump had a 25% chance of winning the next year’s presidential election. “People I know who were not fans of Trump would be aghast and say “‘That’s ridiculous, how can you possibly say that?’” Beauchamp recalls, noting that Trump was then considered somewhat a “joke candidate” among the eight Republican and two Democratic candidates.

But Beauchamp’s prediction — while prescient — was primarily based not on polling but odds. Trump was then leading the Republican primary, so he had a 50/50 chance of winning that … and then he would be in a two-way race, so again had a 50/50 chance to win the presidency. A year out from the 2024 presidential election, Beauchamp is again looking at odds more than polling.

“Presidential polls are usually considered to be unpredictive this far in advance,” Beauchamp says. “As you get closer to the election, the accuracy of the polls goes up and the error goes down, and right now we’re in the band where the error is equivalent to flipping a coin.”

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.

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