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Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections

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  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

We showed 10-second, silent video clips of unfamiliar gubernatorial debates to a group of experimental participants and asked them to predict the election outcomes. The participants' predictions explain more than 20 percent of the variation in the actual two-party vote share across the 58 elections in our study, and their importance survives a range of controls, including state fixed effects. In a horse race of alternative forecasting models, participants' visual forecasts significantly outperform economic variables in predicting vote shares, and are comparable in predictive power to a measure of incumbency status. Adding policy information to the video clips by turning on the sound tends, if anything, to worsen participants' accuracy, suggesting that naïveté may be an asset in some forecasting tasks.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel J. Benjamin & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections," NBER Working Papers 12660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12660
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ben Greiner & Werner Güth & Ro’i Zultan, 2012. "Social communication and discrimination: a video experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(3), pages 398-417, September.
    2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2006. "The Looks of a Winner: Beauty, Gender and Electoral Success," IZA Discussion Papers 2311, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Ratio Working Papers 161, The Ratio Institute.
    4. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2017. "The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 79-86.
    5. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
    6. Oleg V. Petrenko & Federico Aime & Jason Ridge & Aaron Hill, 2016. "Corporate social responsibility or CEO narcissism? CSR motivations and organizational performance," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(2), pages 262-279, February.
    7. Stephens-Davidowitz, Seth, 2014. "The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 26-40.
    8. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
    9. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:677-683 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ryan W. Buell & Tami Kim & Chia-Jung Tsay, 2014. "Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-115, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2015.
    11. Rebekah Herrick & Jeanette Morehouse Mendez & Ben Pryor, 2015. "Razor's Edge: The Politics of Facial Hair," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1301-1313, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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