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The state of presidential election forecasting: The 2004 experience


  • Jones Jr., Randall J.


This paper assesses the current state of U. S. presidential election forecasting, describing forecast methods and their predictive accuracies for the most recent election, 2004. Three types of forecasts were made for the election using the methods noted: 1) point forecasts of the popular vote (by campaign polls, futures contracts on candidates' performance, regression models, Delphi expert surveys, and a combination of forecasts from these methods); 2) point forecasts of the electoral vote (by regression models, probability models based on state polls, a compilation of median polls in states, and exit polls); and 3) dichotomous forecasts of the popular-vote winner (by a multi-indicator index, cut-points for single indicators, and bellwether states). Candidate futures provided the most accurate popular-vote forecasts. A state probability model and the median state poll technique were the most accurate electoral vote methods. All three dichotomous techniques successfully predicted the election winner.

Suggested Citation

  • Jones Jr., Randall J., 2008. "The state of presidential election forecasting: The 2004 experience," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 310-321.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intfor:v:24:y:2008:i:2:p:310-321

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Gelman, Andrew & King, Gary, 1993. "Why Are American Presidential Election Campaign Polls So Variable When Votes Are So Predictable?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(04), pages 409-451, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lemennicier, Bertrand & Katir-Lescieux, Honorine, 2010. "Testing the accuracy of the Downs' spatial voter model on forecasting the winners of the French parliamentary elections in May-June 2007," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 32-41, January.
    2. Wang, Samuel S.-H., 2015. "Origins of Presidential poll aggregation: A perspective from 2004 to 2012," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 898-909.
    3. Pavia, Jose M., 2010. "Improving predictive accuracy of exit polls," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 68-81, January.

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