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Estimating Presidential Elections: The Importance of State Fixed Effects and the Role of National Versus Local Information

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  • Koleman S. Strumpf
  • John R. Phillippe

Abstract

Explaining the outcome of presidential elections is central to any model of American government. Previous researchers have found that economic conditions explain a substantial portion of the variation in vote outcomes. We make two contributions to this literature. First, we show that state partisan predisposition is the most important explanatory variable for the period 1972-1992. Several states are simply out of reach for one of the parties, no matter how favorable is the information about their candidate. Second, we find that national economic indicators have an effect on votes that is an order of magnitude larger than state-level aggregates. Presidents who try to curry favor with certain states through pork barrel projects are unlikely to be rewarded with large vote margins. Our model does a reasonable job forecasting the state-level vote for the 1996 election when the actual economic conditions are used as regressors. None the less we are skeptical that these type of models can accurately forecast the Electoral College winner because of the wide confidence intervals on each state's vote forecast and the potential error in predicted economic conditions. Copyright 1999 Blackwell Publishers Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • Koleman S. Strumpf & John R. Phillippe, 1999. "Estimating Presidential Elections: The Importance of State Fixed Effects and the Role of National Versus Local Information," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 33-50, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:11:y:1999:i:1:p:33-50
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    Cited by:

    1. Souren Soumbatiants & Henry Chappell & Eric Johnson, 2006. "Using state polls to forecast U.S. Presidential election outcomes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 207-223, April.
    2. Akarca, Ali T. & Tansel, Aysit, 2007. "Social and Economic Determinants of Turkish Voter Choice in the 1995 Parliamentary Election," IZA Discussion Papers 2881, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Laura Bianchini & Federico Revelli, 2013. "Green Polities: Urban Environmental Performance and Government Popularity," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(1), pages 72-90, March.
    4. Rodrigo Martins & Francisco Veiga, 2013. "Economic voting in Portuguese municipal elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 317-334, June.
    5. Martina Behm & Hans Grüner, 2009. "Reliability of Information Aggregation with Regional Biases: A Note," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 66(4), pages 355-371, April.
    6. Francisco Jose Veiga & Linda Goncalves Veiga, 2010. "The impact of local and national economic conditions on legislative election results," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(13), pages 1727-1734.
    7. Behm, Martina & Grüner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Electoral College, Popular Vote and Regional Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 3371, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Levernier, William & Barilla, Anthony G., 2006. "The Effect of Region, Demographics, and Economic Characteristics on County-Level Voting Patterns in the 2000 Presidential Election," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 36(3), pages 427-447.

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