When Western Illinois University puts together their annual mock presidential election, some pundits tend to perk up and pay attention. After all, they accurately predicted Barack Obama’s presidential win in 2007, and his narrower reelection win in 2011, after the same system had been used to astonishingly predict every presidential election since 1975 with 100% accuracy.
The results of WIU’s 2015 mock election are in, and if you tend to take the mainstream media seriously, the results of that election will more than likely surprise you: Bernie Sanders won the presidency, then the general election… and he did both in a massive landslide.
The WIU mock election, in which thousands of students from multiple schools form parties and caucuses and play out a small-scale election over the course of several days, has Bernie Sanders beating Hillary Clinton in 22 out of 26 primary states; Hillary Clinton survives past Super Tuesday, but loses out before the month of March is concluded.
As Sanders’ running mate, the school picked Martin O’Malley, though WIU hasn’t had a perfect record with vice presidential candidates, nor with losing tickets; in 2007, they had a Barack Obama/ John Edwards, while saying the GOP ticket would be Giuliani/ McCain. The school made up for that however in 2011, when they (somehow) accurately predicted the losing Mitt Romney/ Paul Ryan ticket. Nobody saw that coming, but somehow, WIU’s students did.
The Republican student body put together a Jeb Bush/ Marco Rubio ticket for 2016, and if you thought WIU’s primary results were interesting, get a load of this: The Sanders/ O’Malley ticket creams the Bush/ Rubio ticket heavy-handedly, with a blow-out landslide win in which Sanders/ O’Malley takes home 404 electoral votes, to the measily 114 picked up by Bush/ Rubio.
Keep in mind, however, that the participating schools only usually accurately predict the next presidency; their record with picking electoral victories is about as shaky as their records with choosing vice presidential candidates and the candidates on the losing ticket.
WIU’s mock elections come by way of Professors Rick Hardy and John Hemmingway, who used the system to accurately predict Jimmy Carter’s astonishing upset victory in their 1975 mock election. Hardy later implemented the same system in Missouri, before the two brought the mock elections to WIU.
Will WIU’s mock elections pull off a hat-trick? There’s no real reason to assume they won’t. If I were a Republican, this would certainly keep me up at night. Thankfully, however, that isn’t a problem I need to deal with.