Trivia

Hard

Which State Has The Highest Accuracy In Predicting Presidential Winners?

Idaho
New Mexico
New Hampshire
Illinois

Answer: New Mexico

If you’re a fan of number crunching and history, all with a spattering of politics on top, then today’s trivia question is for you. We wouldn’t fault you for being very tempted to think Ohio, Illinois, or New Hampshire have the highest accuracy in predicting presidential winners—given how prominently their votes seem to feature in all the media reports on modern elections. While solid guesses, however, you’d be wrong. Election for election, if our criteria is “How right have they been since they became a state?”, the award should go to New Mexico. Since admission to the union in 1912, New Mexico has selected the winning candidate over 90 percent of the time.

Although it might be tempting to assume that somehow the citizens of New Mexico are particularly adept at picking winners (and we don’t want to sell them short, mind you), there are two big factors at play in their success. First, New Mexico has a particularly late primary date (while primaries are held as early as February in some states, New Mexicans vote in their primaries in June). Second, as a westward state, New Mexico also gets news of election events and results as they shake out on the East coast and move across the country. This double exposure—first to more news and a later primary on the front end and then to breaking election news that is predictive of the winner on the tail end—certainly influences voters in the state and results in them having a stronger than expected bead on the potential winner.

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