It may seem an unlikely source for political prognostication, but a Virginia liberal arts school's choice for the Democratic presidential nominee may be the bellwether in this year of unpredictability.
That's because Washington & Lee University's mock convention has a history of getting it right. It has picked the correct presidential nominee for the party out of power every time but once since 1948.
Students choose their nominee from painstaking research in all 50 states. And officials say they are being especially diligent this year as the private school in Lexington celebrates the 100th anniversary of its convention.
Students will make a decision on January 26. The two-day convention offers all the placard-waving, balloon-releasing hoopla of the real thing, and organizers seek to include the party's rising stars among their speakers.
About 90 percent of the 1,800 undergraduates work on the convention, many of them for two to three years before the event. Law school students are also involved.