The Unknown Professor Who Called Trump’s Win

Helmut Norpoth, who forecast Trump victory in February, takes victory lap

by Brendan Kirby | Updated 10 Nov 2016 at 2:33 PM

Pollsters who confidently predicted a comfortable victory for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election might lose business, according to one of the few experts who foresaw a win by Donald Trump.

And State University of New York Stoney Brook professor Helmet Norpoth did not make the call after Trump started winning unexpected states on Tuesday — as some forecasters did after they adjusted their odds to match developments — or even a few days or weeks before the election. He made the prediction before either party’s nominees had even been chosen — in February.

“You might see some of the companies that did this lose clients, because now people see that they don’t get it right.”

Taking a victory lap Thursday on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” he said polls no longer are the best way to measure presidential elections. He predicted there would be a “reckoning” of the polling industry, noting that Gallup gave up horse-race polls after misfiring on the 2012 presidential race.

“You might see some of the companies that did this lose clients, because now people see that they don’t get it right,” he said. “There are other ways of trying to make a prediction based on things that you see in election after election, particularly like early indicators, like what’s happening in presidential primaries, and I wish that people would sort of look more at that … and not be totally fixated by polls that are not getting it all that right anymore.”

Norpoth said he got many congratulatory emails after Tuesday’s results.

“I think many of them are still scratching their heads, because they not only thought it was improbable but unimaginable, and they didn’t like to see it happen — so these things come together,” he said.

Norpoth said forecasters should stop aggregating polls conducted by other organizations.

"It's really shocking," he said. "I mean, these people trust polls … And the shocking thing is that the polls try to figure out what people are thinking and doing. That is so wrong, and I think what is happening is that when you get some new developments, you get a new movement, as you said, you know people out there, they just don't sort of get into the mix. They're overlooked."

Norphoth said he based his prediction on a desire by voters for change after eight years of Democratic rule and Trump's dominance in the GOP primaries. He said many people simply refused to believe the evidence.

"They haven't figured out really how to do that, and maybe wishful thinking and groupthink is getting in the way, as well — that they just can't imagine that Trump would be the winner, and so somehow they don't see the warning signs that they should spot along the way."

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