Here are 3 people who correctly predicted Donald Trump would win the election

And why they got it right.

President-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist during an election night rally early Wednesday morning in New York. Evan Vucci / AP

By almost all accounts—both pundits and polls—Donald Trump’s election night victory was a complete and unmitigated surprise. As illustrated in charts Tuesday night, not even the acclaimed polling forecasters of elections past expected the Republican to win—until it had already happened.

But not all were shocked by the surreal reality of President-elect Trump.

A few prescient, nonpartisan political observers correctly predicted ahead of time what most could not believe. Here’s how they did it.

1. Helmut Norpoth

Norpoth, a political science professor at Stony Brook University in New York, predicted nearly nine months ago that Trump had a 97 percent chance of pulling out a win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.



According to the Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, Norpoth designed a statistical model that forecasts the general election vote based off candidates’ performances in the primary and patterns in the electoral cycle.

When applied to every presidential election since 1912, Norpoth’s model reportedly chose the winner correctly every time, save for the 1960 election.

“The bottom line is that the primary model, using also the cyclical movement, makes it almost certain that Donald Trump will be the next president, if he’s a nominee of the Republican Party,” Norpoth told The Statesman.

While Norpoth’s model did prove accurate, it was not necessarily precise. In February, it forecasted Trump to win the popular vote by a landslide of nearly 9 percentage points. Despite winning in the Electoral College, Trump was on track to lose the popular vote, as the votes continued to be counted Wednesday afternoon.

2. Michael Moore

Yes, that Michael Moore. The liberal documentarian wrote in an article on his website in July titled “5 Reasons Trump Will Win.” And his first reason nailed Trump’s path to victory, even when polls at the time indicated it was virtually nonexistent.

Moore pinpointed Trump’s success in the traditionally-blue Great Lakes region–Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of which the Republican won. Or as Moore put it, “Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit.”


Moore also reasoned that a potential first female president would motivate white men, who feel as they are slipping in society to get out and vote; that Clinton’s deep unpopularity and trust issues among voters would prove fatal; that Democrats had not sufficiently motivated their base of progressive, former Bernie Sanders supporters; and, essentially, that some people just wanted to shake up the political status quo regardless of the consequences.

3. Allan Lichtman

The American University history professor told the Washington Post in September that Trump was headed toward a victory. And given his record of electoral foresight, perhaps more people should have listened.

Lichtman had correctly predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1984. According to a book he published this year, Lichtman makes his prediction based on whether the majority of 13 somewhat subjective statements are true or false. If most are true, the party that holds the presidency keeps it. But if most are false, as they were this year, the party in power loses.

Here were his 13 keys, per the Post:

  • Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
  • Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
  • Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
  • Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
  • Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  • Long-term economy: Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
  • Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
  • Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
  • Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  • Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  • Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  • Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  • Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

In an interview with the Post, Lichtman explained that his assessment of the keys “very, very narrowly […] point to a Trump victory.”

Bonus: Halloween masks

Indeed, the most recent and scariest of all predictions, particularly for Democrats.


With nearly as long a track record as Lichtman, Spirit Halloween has correctly predicted the winner of the election based off its “Presidential Mask Index” since 1996.

Each election, the Halloween retail chain teams up with a polling group to survey respondents on their most popular presidential candidate mask. This year, Trump’s mask was chosen by 55 percent of those surveyed, compared to 45 percent who picked Clinton’s mask.

Of course, the election year gimmick’s method is hardly a scientific model. And yet it did better to predict the outcome of the election (if not quite the vote margin) than the top data journalism websites.


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