Published November 17, 2020

Shay Hafner ’23 wins Electoral College competition

Political science major Shay Hafner ’23 wins Electoral College competition.

The Political Science Department recently sponsored a friendly competition to predict the results of the 2020 presidential election. Participants submitted maps of their expected Electoral College votes ahead of Election Day and were granted points based on the states that were called correctly, with additional points awarded for tossup states and calling results against media experts. 25 students, faculty, and alumni participated in the competition.

Much like the election itself, the competition was very close. Two current students and one alumnus of Monmouth College tied for first place, taking 60 of the 64 possible points. Shay Hafner ’23, a Political Science and Data Science double major, Kyla Suter ’22, an Environmental Studies and Biology double major, and Will Stefanisin ’20, a History major, all came very close to a perfectly predicted outcome. As current students, Hafner and Suter were entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, which Hafner won.

The results of the competition hinged on a few states that the media was late to call: Georgia and North Carolina. Both states saw razor thin margins and were ultimately split between the presidential candidates; Biden is projected to win Georgia while Trump is projected to win North Carolina. Major media companies waited almost two weeks after the election to call the states.

Other calls that split even the top participants were the district battles in Nebraska and Maine. The two states are unique in awarding their Electoral College votes by Congressional district rather than as a “winner take all” system. Biden and Trump split both states, with Biden picking up an elector from the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska and Trump gaining an elector from the 2nd Congressional District of Maine.

Compared to media projections ahead of Election Day, Monmouth College participants did well in calling most of the tossup states, including Florida, Ohio, and neighboring Iowa, a battleground state that was correctly called for President Trump by 23 of the 25 participants.

Political science professor Andre Audette, who organized the competition, said the event highlighted the interest in the election on campus, as well as the keen insights Monmouth College students can provide political campaigns or media analysts.

“Many of our students go on to work on political campaigns, for elected officials, or run for office themselves,” he said, noting the work of fellow political science faculty member Robin Johnson in providing students with real-life campaign experience. “With smart students like Shay and Kyla and alumni like Will, who were more accurate in predicting the election than many in the media, anyone would be wise to call on a Monmouth College student to help understand the future of American politics.”

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