Bleeding Heartland 2016 general election prediction contest results

My father taught me never to begin any presentation with an apology, but I do regret being so late to publish results from this year’s general election prediction contest. I intended to write this post soon after the last U.S. Senate and House elections were completed in Louisiana on December 10. However, I spent most of the following week buried in the Iowa Board of Regents internal audit of Iowa State University’s Flight Service. After I finished that piece, the election contest slipped my mind.

Without further delay, follow me after the jump to see who seized the mantle from JoshHughesIA, winner of our primary election prediction contest. You can view everyone’s guesses in this comment thread.

Be warned: as a group, Bleeding Heartland readers did much more poorly this year than we did predicting the 2012 or 2008 election outcomes.

1. How many Iowans will cast ballots in the 2016 general election? For reference, 1,589,899 Iowans voted in the 2012 general election, and 1,528,715 Iowans voted in the 2008 general election.

Result: 1,581,371

I was surprised turnout was nearly as high as in 2012, given the unpopularity of both major-party presidential nominees. I expected lots of voters to stay home. Instead, a record number of Iowans voted for third-party candidates or write-ins for president, helping the Libertarians achieve full political party status in Iowa for the first time.

Seth Andersen came shockingly close, guessing 1,581,347. You read that right: he was just 24 votes off the total turnout number according to certified results. Bleeding Heartland user dhm1985 had the second-best guess: 1,573,083; ashtonayers was third with 1.590 million.

2. How many electoral votes will Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump win? (538 total)

Result: Trump 306, Clinton 232

No one at Bleeding Heartland predicted Trump would win the presidency. Only a few put Clinton’s electoral vote total below 300. I’m inclined not to give the win on this question to anyone, but for the record, southiowamoderate was closest to the mark, guessing 273 electoral votes for Hillary. Bleeding Heartland user zbert (winner of our 2016 Iowa caucuses prediction contest) guessed 284, and rf guessed 293.

3. What percentage of the national popular vote will Clinton and Trump receive?

Result, according to Dave Wasserman’s indispensable spreadsheet: Clinton 48.2 percent, Trump 46.1 percent

User dhm1985 nailed this one by guessing 48 percent for Clinton, 46 percent for Trump. RF had Clinton winning the popular vote 49-46 percent, while zbert had Clinton winning the popular vote 48-45.

4. What percentage of the vote will Clinton and Trump win in Iowa?

Result: Trump 51.1 percent, Clinton 41.7 percent

One of the most depressing post-election moments for me was realizing Trump won Texas by a smaller percentage than Iowa.

Most who entered our election contest correctly predicted Trump would win Iowa’s electoral votes, but no one guessed he’d carry this state by so much. The winner on this question is rf, who guessed Trump would win 50 percent of the vote in Iowa, Clinton 46 percent. Several of us guessed Trump would win by a margin of 2-3 percent.

5. What percentage of the vote will Chuck Grassley and Patty Judge receive in the U.S. Senate race?

Result: Grassley 60.1 percent, Judge 35.7 percent

We all correctly predicted Grassley would win a seventh term. JoshHughesIA was very close to the final margin: 62 percent to 35 percent. Others who weren’t far off: DSM4Cy (61-39), Seth Andersen (60-38), and johannes (60-39).

6. What percentage of the vote will Rod Blum and Monica Vernon receive in Iowa’s first Congressional district?

Result: Blum 53.7 percent, Vernon 46.1 percent

Bleeding Heartland users were divided on who would win this race. Users southiowamoderate and rf tied for the best prediction: Blum 53 percent, Vernon 47 percent. User dhm1985 and I tied for third, guessing a 52-48 victory for Blum.

7. What percentage of the vote will Dave Loebsack and Christopher Peters receive in IA-02?

Result: Loebsack 53.7 percent, Peters 46.2 percent

Republicans spent virtually no money on this race, and unconventional candidate Peters came out as #NeverTrump four weeks before election day. Could a generic Republican running a better-funded campaign have upset Loebsack, given that Trump carried the second Congressional district? We’ll never know. But no one should assume this seat is safe for Loebsack in 2018 or 2020.

Bleeding Heartland users all correctly predicted Loebsack’s win, but we all overstated his margin. Users rf and moderateiadem tied for the best guess: Loebsack 55 percent, Peters 45 percent. Not far behind was Ashtonayers (55-44).

8. What percentage of the vote will David Young and Jim Mowrer receive in IA-03?

Result: Young 53.4 percent, Mowrer 39.7 percent

Most of us predicted Young would win a second term, but we all understated his margin. Seth Andersen was closest with a prediction of 54 percent for Young, 45 percent for Mowrer. Tied for second: southiowamoderate and ajwebber1985, who both foresaw a 54-46 race.

9. What percentage of the vote will Steve King and Kim Weaver receive in IA-04?

Result: King 61.2 percent, Weaver 38.6 percent

Johannes was almost dead on: King 61 percent, Weaver 39 percent. User moderateiadem and I tied for second, guessing a 60-40 margin for King.

10. How many seats will the Democrats and Republicans win in the Iowa House next Tuesday? Currently there are 57 Republicans and 43 Democrats.

Result: 59 Republicans, 41 Democrats

All of us correctly predicted Republicans would maintain control of the Iowa House, but most thought Democrats would gain a little ground. The closest guess on this question came from rf, who predicted the House would remain split 57-43. Next best guess: moderateiadem (56 Republicans), followed by users southiowamoderate, DSM4Cy, llsl9801, and johannes (all guessed 55 Republicans).

11. How many seats will the Democrats and Republicans win in the Iowa Senate next Tuesday? Currently there are 25 Democrats, 23 Republicans, and one independent. Your answer should add up to 49, because voters in Iowa Senate district 45 will choose Joe Seng’s successor in a December 27 special election.

Result: 29 Republicans, 19 Democrats, one independent

Bleeding Heartland users were split on whether Republicans would gain control of the upper chamber. No one predicted the blowout that occurred. User rf and I had the best prediction on this question (27 Republicans). Seth Andersen and southiowamoderate tied for second (26 Republicans).

12. Which Congressional race in Iowa will be the closest (in terms of percentage of vote difference between winner and loser)?

Result (by 0.1 percent): IA-02

That’s right, Loebsack defeated Peters by a slightly narrower margin than Blum defeated Vernon.

We struck out on this question. All of us predicted either IA-01 or IA-03.

13. Which Iowa House or Senate race will be the closest (in terms of percentage of vote difference between winner and loser)?

For the first time in many election cycles, no state legislative race was close enough to go to a recount. In fact, I was shocked to see that no Iowa House race was decided by less than a 3 percent margin. The closest was Chris Hagenow’s win in House district 43 by 3.2 percent (more than 500 votes).

Only one Iowa Senate race was close: Rich Taylor defeated Danny Graber in Senate district 42 by 0.6 percent. If Iowa Republicans had made any investment here, the race would have become a seventh pickup for the GOP.

We struck out on this question. The most popular answer was Senate district 32, where three-term Democratic incumbent Brian Schoenjahn ended up losing by nearly 20 points.

14. What percentage of yes and no retention votes will Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady receive? For reference, Justice David Wiggins received 54.5 percent “yes” votes in 2012.

Result: 65.3 percent of Iowans who filled out that part of the ballot voted yes on Cady.

We all predicted Cady would be retained. No one realized he would do so well, but southiowamoderate wasn’t far off, guessing a 64 percent yes vote. In second place: DSM4Cy (62 percent yes). JoshHughesIA, ashtonayers, and ajwebber1985 tied for third (60 percent).

15. Nationally, which U.S. Senate race will be decided by the narrowest margin (in terms of percentage of the vote difference, not raw votes)?

Result: New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan defeated GOP incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte by 48.02 percent to 47.88 percent.

Seth Andersen, DSM4Cy, dhm1985, rf, and I all predicted New Hampshire would be the closest Senate race.

16. In the presidential race, which state will be decided by the narrowest margin (again, in terms of percentage of the vote)?

Result: Trump won Michigan by 47.5 percent to 47.3 percent.

We struck out on this question. The most popular guess was North Carolina, followed by Iowa, but a bunch of states were closer. Honorable mention goes to dhm1985, who guessed New Hampshire. Clinton’s winning margin of 0.4 percent there was the second-narrowest this year.

17. How many Democrats and Republicans will be in the U.S. House starting January 2017? (435 total) Currently there are 246 Republicans, 186 Democrats, and three vacancies.

Result: 241 Republicans, 194 Democrats

We all correctly predicted Republicans would retain control of the House, but most of us guessed they would end up somewhere in the 230s. The best guess came from DSM4Cy (238 Republicans), followed by ajwebber1985 (237 Republicans) and me (236).

18. How many Democrats and Republicans will be in the U.S. Senate starting January 2017? (100 total) For this question, I am counting independents who caucus with Democrats as Democrats. Currently there are 54 Republicans and 46 in the Democratic caucus (including two independents).

Result: 52 Republicans and 48 in the Democratic caucus (including the independents)

Only zbert nailed this one. Tied for second: southiowamoderate and Seth Andersen, who both predicted Republicans would end up with 51 Senate seats. The rest of us guessed either a Democratic-controlled Senate or a 50-50 split.

19. How many of Iowa’s 99 counties will Clinton and Trump carry? For reference, in 2008, John McCain carried 46 counties, Barack Obama 53. But in 2012, Obama carried only 38 counties, Mitt Romney 61. The latest voter registration totals for all 99 counties are here.

Result: Trump 93 counties, Clinton 6 counties

We all correctly predicted that Clinton would carry fewer Iowa counties than Obama did four years ago, but no one had any idea how badly she would be annihilated here. Most people predicted she would win between 29 and 35 counties. The winner on this question is DSM4Cy, who guessed 24 counties for Clinton, followed by me (25) and rf (26).

Shout-outs to Seth Andersen and DSM4Cy, who did well in their first-ever Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. Each picked New Hampshire as the closest U.S. Senate race and had the best answer on two additional questions, as well as the second-best answer on two questions and the third-best on one question. I still can’t believe Seth came so close to predicting the turnout number!

In a gutsy play, southiowamoderate was first to post election predictions and ended up with the best answer on three questions and the second-best on three more.

Today’s undisputed winner, however, is rf. Among the earliest registered users at Bleeding Heartland, he has been an occasional commenter here since 2007. Although rf has not lived in Iowa for some time, he conjured up the best prediction on five questions, in addition to guessing New Hampshire would have the closest Senate race. On yet another question, rf had the second-best answer, and he placed third on two more. Congratulations and bragging rights go to rf, until we reconvene for the 2018 Iowa primary election prediction contest.

  • A Festicus miracle!

    My win just proves that in these types of contests it is sometimes beneficial not to know too much. Thank you for having these election contests, it’s always fun to participate. And thank you for the excellent blog, without it I would know very little about current Iowa politics.

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