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Forecasting non-incumbent presidential elections: Lessons learned from the 2000 election

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  • Sidman, Andrew H.
  • Mak, Maxwell
  • Lebo, Matthew J.

Abstract

As the 2008 election approaches, we offer a reexamination of the 2000 election -- its place in history, political science, and presidential forecasting models. This is especially relevant since 2008, like 2000, will be an election without a president seeking reelection. How should forecasting models deal with such elections? Looking carefully at 2000 we evaluate the utility of "weighting" candidates in non-incumbent elections. Using Bayesian Model Averaging, we find that weighting helps to better predict 2000, but also produces a poorer model fit over a wider set of elections. For other non-incumbent elections, weighting only improves predictions for the 1960 election. Moreover, we find that the 2000 election is anything but ordinary; attempts by forecasters to change the specification of models to better fit the 2000 election are ultimately harmful to the forecasting exercise. We conclude that presidential forecasts are best when they ignore whether or not an incumbent is running.

Suggested Citation

  • Sidman, Andrew H. & Mak, Maxwell & Lebo, Matthew J., 2008. "Forecasting non-incumbent presidential elections: Lessons learned from the 2000 election," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 237-258.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intfor:v:24:y:2008:i:2:p:237-258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fair, Ray C, 1978. "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 159-173, May.
    2. Ray C. Fair, 1996. "Econometrics and Presidential Elections," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 89-102, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2010. "Do Elections Matter for Economic Performance," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2010-35, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Maltritz, Dominik & Molchanov, Alexander, 2013. "Analyzing determinants of bond yield spreads with Bayesian Model Averaging," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5275-5284.
    3. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2009. "Democracy's Achilles Heel or, How to Win an Election without Really Trying," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2009-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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