Low gas prices and President Barack Obama's high approval ratings are key factors that favor Democrat Hillary Clinton winning the White House in next week's election, according to a model from Moody's Analytics that has accurately predicted the last nine U.S. presidential contests.
Clinton is forecast to pick up 332 Electoral College votes against 206 for Republican Donald Trump, Moody's Analytics predicted on Tuesday in the final update of its model before Election Day on Nov. 8. That would match Obama's margin of victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012.
The Reuters-Ipsos States of the Nation project also predicts a Clinton win, with a 95 percent probability of her winning at least 278 electoral votes. A candidate needs to win at least 270 electoral votes to be elected president.
The Moody's Analytics model is based on a combination of state-level economic conditions and political history, and has correctly called the outcome of each presidential election since Republican Ronald Reagan unseated Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Rather than focus on the individual candidates in a race, the model instead centers on whether current economic and political conditions favor the incumbent party in the White House. This year those factors point to Clinton becoming the 45th U.S. president.
The economic factors Moody's measures include the two-year percentage changes in real personal income per household, as well as house and gasoline prices.
Among the political factors weighed, Moody's said the most important is the share of the vote in any one state that went to the incumbent party in the previous election. It also takes into account voter fatigue and the incumbent president's approval ratings.
This year, with Obama enjoying some of his highest job approval ratings since his first year in office in 2009 and gasoline prices holding steady at well-below-average levels, the model suggests the Democrats will win their third straight presidential election, Moody's said. That would mark the first time since the 1988 election of Republican George H.W. Bush that one party has won three consecutive presidential contests.
Moody's warns, however, that its model does not take into account any individual characteristics of specific candidates.
"Given the unusual nature of the 2016 election cycle to date, it is very possible that voters will react to changing economic and political conditions differently than they have in past election cycles, placing some risk in the model outcome, particularly state-by-state projections," Moody's analytics economist Dan White wrote in the report.
(Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)