By Malcolm Mackerras

Back on May 26, I had an article posted on this website titled “Are the odds in Malcolm’s favour?” The article predicted Malcolm Turnbull would win the Australian election set down for July 2.

However, it also asserted that “I have no doubt Hillary Clinton will be inaugurated on Friday, January 20 next year as the 45th American President, Barack Obama being the 44th. I prefer, however, to make a probability statement. There is a 90% chance of Hillary being the person inaugurated.”

That is the only prediction I have thus far made in print on the US elections on November 8 and, in private conversations, I have stuck rigidly to my 90% probability statement. Until today, that is.

My Clinton probability statement today is 99%, so I might just as well now have my penny’s worth and make some detailed predictions, beginning with the presidential election where I forecast that 384 votes will be cast for Clinton and 154 for Donald Trump.

The point is that the popular elections (state legislative, gubernatorial, congressional and presidential) will take place on Tuesday November 8, but, technically speaking, the election of the president will occur on Monday December 19 when the electoral college meets.

Those meetings will be convened in 51 different places. First, in Washington, where three votes for the District of Columbia will be cast for Clinton, and second, in 50 other places i.e. the capital of each state where voting will take place being the public votes cast by the electors of that state. This will occur in the legislative building of that state which Americans call “The Capitol”.

Readers may have noticed that for some forty years The Australian carried my pendulums for Australian elections but I have now been, so to speak, “sacked” by them – thus I have needed to take my Australian pendulums to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Melbourne’s Herald Sun and Adelaide’s Advertiser. Some thirty years ago, I devised an American equivalent and in The Australian I had that US pendulum published and made predictions for the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The only election I called wrongly was that on Tuesday 2 November 2004 when I predicted John Kerry would be elected President. He was the nominee of the Democratic Party and is now US Secretary of State.

A peculiarity of the above dates should be noted. With the exceptions of 1988 and 2016, every one of those presidential elections was held on the same day as our Melbourne Cup. Why not 1988 and 2016?

The answer is that the Melbourne Cup is always held on the first Tuesday in November whereas the Americans have their elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That, of course, is not the only American peculiarity. The ultimate peculiarity is that the Americans BELIEVE they are directly electing their president when, strictly speaking, they are merely participating in the choice of presidential electors.

Only in the states of Arizona, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota are ordinary people shown the names of presidential electors on their ballots. Those states account for only 4% of the total US population. The remaining Americans are shown only the names of the REAL candidates, Clinton, Trump and some others in most states.

Should any reader wish to know the precise number of electors from each state he/she could look up my table “Electoral College Voting Strength by State” accompanying my article in “The Weekend Australian” for October 27 and 28 of 2012 titled “Obama will win, but with a lower vote” to which the editor of the “Inquirer” section added “He will follow Woodrow Wilson in having a second, less impressive victory.” The article appears on page 20.

My reader might want to know how I worked out my prediction, which is 384 votes for Clinton and 154 for Trump. All you need to do is look at “The Weekend Australian” for January 19 and 20 of 2013. My article appears on page 17 of “Inquirer” and is titled “Swings and roundabouts in my American Century”. To that the editor added “Landslides have been more common over the past 120 years.” My current pendulum appears there. All you need to do is apply my well-known pendulum principles to the latest average of all the nation-wide opinion polls and that is the prediction you could work out for yourself.

To have an idea of how that Hillary Clinton victory would rate historically, I quote the two Wilson victories, the two Bill Clinton victories and the two Obama victories. Those elections are, I think, comparable to each other and to this election, they being all presidents from the Democratic Party who won two successive victories.

In 1912, Wilson won 435 votes to 88 for Theodore Roosevelt and 8 for incumbent President William H. Taft. In 1916, Wilson won 277 votes to 254 for Charles E. Hughes. In 1992, Bill Clinton won 370 votes to 168 for incumbent President George H. W. Bush. In 1996, Bill Clinton won 379 votes to 159 for Bob Dole. In 2008, Obama won 365 votes to 173 for John McCain and in 2012, he won 332 votes to 206 for Mitt Romney. All names of losing candidates given above are for Republicans except Roosevelt who described himself as “Progressive”.

Finally, I turn to the Congress. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives and at the November 2014 mid-term elections the result was 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats. This November, I predict 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats. In the present Senate, there are 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats and two Independents, one of whom is Bernie Sanders! In the new Senate I predict there will be 51 Democrats, 47 will be Republicans and again two Independents, both being essentially Democrats, Sanders from Vermont and Angus King from Maine. It is worth remembering that 34 senators will be elected, the class of 2010 requiring re-election. At the mid-term elections in November 2010 there were elected 24 Republicans and only 10 Democrats.

(Malcolm Mackerras is a visiting fellow at the Australian Catholic University’s Canberra campus.