The Fair Model Looks at 2016

Amidst all of the hooplah, incomprehensible media coverage, and exaggerated reactions to the present absurdity by which American voters choose from among the unpalatable candidates seeking the presidency, there is something that I think is being lost and that is that the American political history and experience suggests that the fundamentals favor the Republicans, regardless of which candidate each party eventually nominates. In this post I’ll submit a little evidence for that.

For the last 20 years Yale economist Ray Fair has been using an econometric model to predict the popular vote results for the presidential and Congressional elections and over the years the accuracy of his model has continued to improve. If you think it’s relevant, Dr. Fair is a progressive Democrat.

The table below illustrates his model’s predictions for the last three presidential elections along with the actual popular vote results. Red denotes results for a Republican, blue for a Democrat.

Year Prediction Actual
2004 57.7 50.7
2008 51.9 52.9
2012 49.0 51.1
2016 45.7  

There are a number of different possible reactions to this:

  1. Dr. Fair’s model is correct and the economic fundamentals favor the Republicans this cycle.
  2. Dr. Fair’s model is wrong. His 2008 and 2012 predictions were a coincidence.
  3. Never tell me the odds!
  4. This time is different.

I think that Dr. Fair’s model is correct, at least in terms of the directionality of his results and that it ignores the Democrats’ ground game which, for example, gave John Kerry better results than he predicted in 2004. I also think that this time is different. I think that both the ordinary members of both parties are rebelling against their respective party’s nomenklatura.

You can tinker with Dr. Fair’s model at the link above. Basically, it predicts that we’ll need third quarter growth that is, frankly, unimaginably high for the Democratic candidate not to be swimming against the tide.

36 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    He predicted an Obama win with 49%?

  • ... Link

    And I’ll take 2, 3, & 4. I think many of the people here could have predicted numbers in the range given.

  • Remember that he’s predicting popular vote. Note, for example, that Bill Clinton won the presidency with a minority of the vote both times.

  • Modulo Myself Link

    I’m not sure what the value of this model is. He seems to be saying that almost every election the GOP is the natural favorite to win the popular vote, and yet they’ve only won it once, in 2004, since 1988. Clearly there are a few bugs in the system.

  • jan Link

    “Amidst all of the hooplah, incomprehensible media coverage, and exaggerated reactions to the present absurdity by which American voters choose from among the unpalatable candidates seeking the presidency…. “

    Dave, whatever has made you come to such an election critique!!! I openly chuckled when I read this. Ah what splendidly obtuse times we find ourselves enmeshed!

    My emotional weathervane still says, though, that the dems will win, especially after experiencing the 2012 election cycle where, someone having such a terrible record, was reelected for a second term.

    The only difference now may be more people have been negatively effected by social progressive policies. Healthcare is in turmoil. Poverty stats are higher, income is lower, jobs are subject to the unhealthy perimeters set under the healthcare law — lowering hours. Racial relationships have worsened. Polarization has increased between classes and political parties. Major numbers of people think the country is going in the wrong direction. Our standing across the world has slipped, as has the respect generated among allies and enemies, alike. Plus, the dems have only two candidates — one a socialist, the other a crook.– in which to cast their vote for.

    Maybe, just maybe, a Hail Mary Revolution is being sparked as people on the left and right of center, along with reliable racial and gender voting blocks, wake up becoming enthused/energized by fed-up attitudes rather than simply capitulating to old robotic party loyalties. I personally think this is a large part of Trump’s appeal, fueled by the haphazard and apolitical methods he employs, kicking old partisan guidelines/rituals to the curb, stimulating non-voters out of the woodwork, while others simply cross over party lines. I don’t necessarily like it. But, then living in the world of Obama’s vision has not been a joyful or rewarding experience either.

  • ... Link

    Jan, it’s too soon for a “revolution”. For one thing, we’d need to see the national consensus change, and the Dems aren’t budging. They’re running two people that first became prominent in the 1980s – no sign of upset there!

    It might help if you think of what’s going on with the Republicans this way: It’s not a revolution led by Trump, it’s a riot by the voters. Burn the bitch down! (If I were still a registered Republican, I’d vote for Trump next Tuesday solely with that purpose in mind.)

    You can tell the Trump thing isn’t really a revolution in Republican politics because (a) Trump has a couple of points vaguely expressed (anti-immigration and anti-managed trade agreements) but his positions aren’t that clearly thought out, and (b) there’s no one running on those items down ticket! One man does not a revolution make, not even a President.

    I think we’re still two to four years off for a revolution to occur. More people (in both parties) need to get angry, get organized, and come up with a rallying cry. But I don’t think it will happen. I think that by 2020 our politics will be so Latin Americanized that there won’t be any turning back. El Jefe Jeb still has a shot! And even if he doesn’t George P. is waiting in the wings. And by then Julian Castro will be ready to be President. (Castro is the most unimpressive person I have even witnessed be groomed for the Presidency, and that’s saying something.) It’ll be all down hill once Florida and Texas go Deep Blue, as the Dems pols won’t have any reason to change.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I’m a 4.

    According to the HuffPost poll aggregator, Hillary Clinton has a 53.6% unfavorable and a 40.0% favorable rating.

    Donald Trump is at 57.6% unfavorable and 36.1% favorable.

  • steve Link

    I am with PD. It will be a turnout election, but not one based upon positives for one’s own candidate, rather just making sure the other person does not get elected.


  • ... Link

    PD, so you’re saying we have to two most unpopular people in America leading the polls. Excellent!

    Burn this bitch down!

  • jan Link

    ice, whatever is happening, people seem to be either discouraged, angry or simply in la-la land. The critical or long-term thinking just isn’t there anymore, which is why people like Sanders, Clinton and Trump are even in competition for the public’s vote. All three are encumbered with so many flaws. Sanders is a pure utopian dreamer with no reality-based policies. Clinton is ethically challenged and almost evil with her ambition. And, Trump is an ego-driven man who is too complex and confusing to either follow or sensibly predict what he will or will not do.

  • ... Link

    Don’t forget, Jan, that two out of the three are among the most despised people in the country. Ain’t America grand?

    And now Republican money-bag donors are talking about funding a third party effort. I’m really laughing at this. They spent hundreds of millions in a stacked system to get El Jefe Jeb or Brujo Marco nominated & failed miserably, but they can spend a couple of billion in the general election and win?

    The people that will follow this will include the same people who called me a traitor to America in 2014 for not voting party ticket Republican that year!

    (Steve Sailer & his commenters are having a blast coming up with names for the new party BTW.)

    I tell you, I may finally be starting to believe there is a God, because this is heading into complete Bizarro territory, and every day brings me new joys following the campaign. Surely this can’t all be happening by chance, or by the petty designs of mere mortals! TB completely missed the boat: Nicki Minaj getting elected to the Presidency in this year wouldn’t be strange enough.

    And I called it in 2011. If only I had put money on a prop bet! GAH!

  • jan Link

    Well, ice, I’m glad you’re able to find some ironic jollies out of this mess. However, we are not heading into Bizarro Territory, but already there, flailing around for some sign of meaning or reason.

  • TastyBits Link


    I picked Nicki because I think she looks good, but I did think it would be bizarre. It is getting damn scary that my crazy ideas are becoming reality faster and faster. A lot of them are really just logically progressing things down their existing path.

    I think I am still registered as a Republican, and if so, I will drag carcass to the polls to vote Trump for nominee.

  • TastyBits Link

    One main reason for electing Trump is he is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male. For four or eight years, nobody has to be concerned about being called a racist, misogynist, sexist, anti-semite, or any other *.ist.

    There was a political cartoon of Sen. Cruz’s daughters as monkeys, and he as the grinder because he used them for the campaign. It was so refreshing to not have to hear about racism. If you did not think it was appropriate for the political cartoonist to use his daughters, he was an a$$hole not a racist.

    If voting is my sacred duty, I will be one of the “burn this bitch down” voters. Be careful what you wish for.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Thomas Jefferson: “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.”

    Watch that second sentence.

  • ... Link

    PD, the only right I have now is the right to be poor. I’m running out of things to lose.

  • TastyBits Link

    Trump has also exposed that the “alternate media” aspires to be as elite as the mainstream or traditional media. The liberal media tried to control the narrative to sway opinion towards the candidate they prefered. Now, they are simply letting the public decide, or they have started something they cannot control.

    Either way, the conservative media is apoplectic that they cannot control their side. Trump followers are being fooled by Trump instead of the conservative media.

    National Review and Glenn Beck are going batshit crazy that half their followers will not listen to them, but it looks like Rush Limbaugh is taking a “wait and see” approach. It is looking like the conservative majority was a rather thin type of conservative after all.

    I am a “burn this bitch down” type of voter, but I dropped out a long time ago. If you want to get an idea of what is going on, you should pay attention to @Icepick. He has been the “canary in the coalmine” for some time.

    @Icepick should be a good little white male, STEM, Reagan Democrat or Republican. He should be living in a nice comfortable house in a mostly safe neighborhood with his wife and 1.75 kids. He should be a regular voter, and he should be promoting standard Republican platform positions.

    Instead, he has stopped voting, and at times, he sounds like a Sen. Sanders supporter. Something ain’t right, and it turns out he ain’t the only one. There are a whole lot of @Icepicks, and they are sick and tired of being told that what they are experiencing is not real.

    As to this being a revolution that gets out of control, things began getting out of control for Trump supporters a long time ago, and for the Sen. Sanders supporters, they were never in control. That leaves the people who have some control over their and other’s lives to be concerned. As one loses control, I would suggest joining the Trump supporters because they are not going to be very sympathetic to the idea of the controllers retaining control.

    Here is a little secret. These people would rather not be involved in any revolution or burning down anything. All they want is simple peaceful lives. For years, many of them bought the bullshit of the left and/or right, and it has gotten them nowhere. Actually, it has gotten many of them worse off than from where they started, and some of them will never get the chance to even get out of the hole they are in.

    If Donald Trump or even Sen. Sanders is “as good as it gets”, then so be it. Just because somebody is not swallowing your opponent’s bullshit does not mean that they are swallowing yours. In the general election, you may be surprised at who decides to vote and who does not. I suspect that contrary to conservative’s delusion the silent majority are Trump supporters not Cruz or Rubio. In fact, I suspect the silent majority has little use for either.

  • mike shupp Link

    Tasty Bits: Good post. I’ll probably be throwing bucks again in a few days at folks who don’t parrot my views, but I find myself appreciating your perspective today.

  • mike shupp Link

    Umm… throwing BRICKS, not throwing bucks. You all should wish!

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