Prediction “experts” at a source used by news outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, Buzzfeed, the Financial Times, the Washington Post and many others have set the chances of Donald Trump becoming the next U.S. president at around the same likelihood as they forecast Britain leaving the European Union in June this year.
PredictWise – which describes itself as “a website for a project that studies the collection of individual-level data for predictions, aggregation of that data into prediction, and usage of predictions” for “politics, sports, finance, and entertainment” – currently puts the Republican nominee’s chances at between 19 and 30 per cent over the course of the last month.
The organisation, recently linked to by the Independent, is run by Dr. David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research.
In the run-up Britain’s European Union referendum, his methodology predicted a win for the Remain campaign, with a 20 per cent likelihood of Brexit going into the final few weeks of the campaign. On the night of the referendum itself, the odds for a Leave vote dropped to as little as 12 per cent.
Explaining, on the day the result became clear, Dr. Rothschild asserted on his blog that his predictions were not an “epic fail” as suggested by some social media users.
“…a consistent 75% for Brexit to fail over the last week was a reasonable, but unexciting, prediction for prediction markets,” he wrote, adding: “Predicting something at 25% and it happening is not an “epic fail“, as in Brexit; predicting something at <1% and it happening is an “epic fail“, as in nothing prediction market did! But, it is certainly better to be on the winning side.”
Instead, he blamed the fact that “traders priced in that they would all lose money if Brexit passed” and that the “market did not pick up on enough idiosyncratic data in the field”.
Meanwhile, a mass telephone survey conducted by the Leave.EU group on the day of the referendum predicted the result almost to the decimal place.
And Dr. Rothschild even admitted that he “buried” polls “in blog posts” at the Huffington Post website.
His conclusion, however, is potentially the most disturbing of all: “This one-shot succession election in the United Kingdom does not substantially alter anything regarding the prediction methodology of the regularly occurring presidential election in the United States,” he writes, though he does add: “the outcome certainly will affect the US”.
PredicWise also predicted that Senator Ted Cruz would gazump Donald Trump at the last moment to take the Republican nomination.
Breitbart London has previously reported on how polling and predictions have been used to skew the public perception of a national election or referendum.
In the United Kingdom, just as in the United States, pollsters were altering their methodologies in order to give a lead to the Remain campaign. They simply didn’t believe that Brexit could win.
Additionally, predictions based on the betting markets were flawed given that a small number of very rich people accounted for the majority of Remain bets, while there were far more in terms of individual betters for smaller amounts of cash on the Leave side.
The similarities between the Brexit campaign and the U.S. Presidential election are worthy of note, as reported yesterday by Breitbart London.
Raheem Kassam is the editor in chief of Breitbart London and tweets at @RaheemKassam