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Student Forecasters Predict A Clinton Win

You’re reading Back of the Envelope, an experiment that aims to bring shorter, quicker content to FiveThirtyEight.

We’re predicting the election. So are several other media organizations and academic groups. Now more than 450 high-school and university students have made their picks, in a contest sponsored by the American Statistical Association. And 97 percent predict Hillary Clinton will win.


Two caveats about the students’ forecasts:

  • The 97 percent figure just means that the vast majority of student model-makers think Clinton is more likely to win. It doesn’t say anything about what probability they think she has of winning. They might all think she has just a 51 percent chance to win. (Students weren’t asked to assign probabilities to their forecasts.)
  • The predictions were due on Oct. 30. So they’re a snapshot of what students’ models expected as of that date or earlier. The median student forecast gave Clinton 49.3 percent of the national popular vote and Trump 43.3 percent. Those figures are very close to the estimated vote shares that our polls-only forecast gave on Oct. 30: 49.4 percent and 44.2 percent for Clinton and Trump, respectively. (The official contest page pointed students to outside resources — including FiveThirtyEight — as guides in making picks.)

CORRECTION (Nov. 2, 12:33 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the date when the student election forecasts were due. The deadline was Oct. 30, not Oct. 24. (The contest organizers changed the initial date.)

Carl Bialik was FiveThirtyEight’s lead writer for news.