In August, TheBlaze told you about University of Colorado Professors Ken Bickers and Michael Berry and their highly-accurate Electoral College prediction model. As you may recall, Bickers and Berry, using their metrics, are able to retroactively predict every presidential win since 1980.
Their 2012 model made headlines two months ago because, despite polling, it found that Republican presidential candidate Romney would win 320 Electoral Votes, stealing the White House away from President Barack Obama. Now, an updated version of their study has come to the same conclusion — but it intensifies the numbers behind a predicted Romney win.
Despite the fact that polls still show a dead-heat race (Obama is currently at 48.2 percent, with Romney capturing 47.3 percent of likely voters in the most recent Real Clear Politics average), an updated election model shows an even larger gap between the Electoral College votes that Romney and Obama are projected to win. According to Bickers and Berry, the Republican challenger is projected to take 330 of the 558 votes, while Obama is expected to capture only 208 of them.
With 270 as the major number needed for any candidate to win, this clearly shows Obama far from the mark, sending Romney — at least theoretically — to victory come November. While the model did not change, Bickers’ and Berry’s analysis is based on updated economic data, which clearly helped sway the projection even further in Romney’s favor.
The University of Colorado Boulder web site has more about how the model works:
While many election forecast models are based on the popular vote, the model developed by Bickers and Berry is based on the Electoral College and is the only one of its type to include more than one state-level measure of economic conditions. They included economic data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. […]
The Bickers and Berry model includes both state and national unemployment figures as well as changes in real per capita income, among other factors. The new analysis includes unemployment rates from August rather than May, and changes in per capita income from the end of June rather than March. It is the last update they will release before the election. […]
In addition to state and national unemployment rates, the authors analyzed changes in personal income from the time of the prior presidential election. Research shows that these two factors affect the major parties differently: Voters hold Democrats more responsible for unemployment rates, while Republicans are held more responsible for fluctuations in personal income.
“We continue to show that the economic conditions favor Romney even though many polls show the president in the lead,” Bickers notes. “Other published models point to the same result, but they looked at the national popular vote, while we stress state-level economic data.”
According to the prediction, Romney will carry New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. On the flip side, Obama will take Michigan and Nevada.
Of course, Bickers and Berry caution those wedded to the data. Despite being correct for the past eight elections, there are some factors worth noting. The model has an average error rate of five states and 28 Electoral College votes. Plus, states that are close may end up being impacted by unexpected factors not included in the model.
Now, let’s get back to that record of accuracy mentioned earlier in this piece. The state-based economic data used by the researchers has been available since 1980, according to the university’s web site. When the data is applied to past elections, retroactively, it correctly chooses all of the winners. Most notably, it even correctly estimated the 2000 outcome, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the Electoral College.
In the end, though, anything is possible. Slight and unexpected changes could turn the entire scenario on its head. Still, the model — considering its viability — is worth paying attention to.