Update 11/9/16: We spoke with Election Analytics following the election on what went wrong.
Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. At least according to a predictive forecasting model by a team of computer science students at the University of Illinois.
Election Analytics, a student-run STEM lab that uses polling data and sophisticated algorithms to predict presidential races, has Clinton’s chances of winning at 100%. Clinton hit the 100% mark last night when her odds were increased from 99.98%. It’s the first time during the election that Election Analytics has put Donald Trump’s chances of winning at 0%.
However, it should be noted that this forecast is based on if the election were held today. With less than 30 days to go until Nov. 8, the model could change, according to Sheldon Jacobson, an Illinois computer science professor who leads the Election Analytics team.
“If the election were held today, I can guarantee you Hillary Clinton would win,” Jacobson said. “It’s very possible things could change in 28 days and our forecast will update.”
Election Analytics launched in 2008 and has provided election forecasting during each of the last three presidential elections. The group is made up of one graduate engineering student and four undergraduate computer science students at the University of Illinois, along with Jacobson.
The group is nonpartisan, and says it takes an extremely data-focused approach to predicting the outcome of the race. It uses the same available polling data that sites like Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight use, but takes into account other variables like the age and size of the poll–and then examines the data state by state. Then, using a sophisticated algorithm that takes into account past election outcomes, Election Analytics creates an exact distribution for what the electoral college will look like.
Jacobson says its predictions have historically been around 12% more accurate than Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. Its model correctly predicted 49 out of 50 states in both the ’08 and ’12 elections. FiveThirtyEight currently has Clinton’s chances of winning at 83%.
“We’re guaranteeing a win for Hillary Clinton. And people say that’s impossible,” Jacobson said. “It’s possible based on the data. We could put it at 95% to make it more appealing to people … But I always tell people just look at our record in 2008 and 2012.”
Clinton’s 100% odds aren’t unlike the race in 2012, when Election Analytics also had Barack Obama at 100% on October 10.
Trump’s best odds at winning were on September 26, when he had a 25% chance of taking the White House, according to Election Analytics. That’s a higher chance than the group ever gave Mitt Romney, who’s best odds topped out at 8% in 2012.
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