Who Predicted Trump Would Win the Republican Nomination?

Donald Trump

It seems like nobody outside the Trump campaign predicted his rise and ultimate nomination as Republicans’ presidential candidate. In 2015, before the primaries and the caucuses began, there seemed to be a cottage industry of pundits explaining why Donald Trump was toast. Former nominee Mitt Romney flatly declared that Trump “will not be the nominee.” Romney was hardly alone.

Which Pundits Predicted Trump?

A few people did predict Trump’s rise. Who were they?

  • Shock-jock Howard Stern predicted in August 2015 that Trump would be the nominee. “He’s proven that no matter what he says, people dig him.” (The Hill)
  • Political pundit Matthew Dowd predicted in September 2015 Trump had the nomination wrapped up due to his lead in national polls. (Politifact)
  • Filmmaker Michael Moore predicted in December 2015 that Trump would win the GOP nomination. “It’s going from being a joke to being a serious reality.” (The Wrap)

Who Else Got it Right?

Other commentators came close. One was a county in Indiana that has a good track record of picking the nominee, and a few New York Times readers also predicted the eventual nominee.

  • Bellwether Vigo County in western Indiana voted for Trump – and the county’s citizens have voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1888, except two. (Politico)
  • Two New York Times readers who were interviewed in November 2015 posited Trump as the eventual nominee. None correctly predicted the Trump-Pence ticket, but one reader thought Pence would make a balanced veep for Rubio. (The New York Times)

What Can We Learn From This?

Nate Silver, who initially predicted that Trump had a 2% chance of winning the nomination, issued a mea culpa after Trump wrapped up the nom. The small sample size of nomination contests, the changing sentiment of the electorate, and the game-changing nature of Trump all seem to have played a role in the pundits and elites missing Trump’s strength.