Political strategist Mark Mellman helps us understand two competing ways to predict election outcomes, and the peril of favoring one over the other. In his article, “The candidate or the circumstances,” Mellman notes that based on polls and personality, Hillary Clinton was predicted to win the presidential race. But, according to Mellman there is more at play than character. He suggests that circumstances are a critical factor that has the power to sway an outcome.
For instance, length of time a party has been in the White House, economic performance during the election, voters’ perceptions, and their proclivity for change are all fundamental to any prediction model. If we had taken all these crucial aspects into consideration, Mellman writes, there would not have been such a big surprise at the end.
Mark Mellman has been a political strategist and campaign consultant for democratic candidates and ballot issues since 1982. He has consulted to the Senate Minority Leader and House Whip, among others.