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The Fundamentals, the Polls, and the Presidential Vote

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2004

Christopher Wlezien
Affiliation:
Oxford University
Robert S. Erikson
Affiliation:
Columbia University

Extract

As the experience of 2000 shows, forecasting presidential elections is an inexact science. Everybody knows that “the economy” matters, but simple projection from economic conditions at the time of the forecast is not enough. And the most important economic shocks to the economy are the late shocks, which may arrive too late to be measured by the forecaster. Other events also impact, such as (in 2004) the Iraq war. Incorporating presidential approval into the model helps to control for “other” events that economic indicators ignore, but obviously only those that are observable by the time of the latest approval reading. They also don't reveal much about voters' comparative judgments of the two candidates. Of course one can forecast the presidential race from trial-heat polls available at the moment rather than trying to capture the fundamentals that will matter on Election Day. But the whole purpose of forecasting is to present information about the voters' future behavior that is not yet evident in the trialheat polls. Besides, early polls only tell us little about the final election outcome.

Type
Symposium
Copyright
© 2004 by the American Political Science Association

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References

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