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Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections

  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12660.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12660.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Publication status: published as Daniel J Benjamin & Jesse M Shapiro, 2009. "Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 523-536, 02.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12660
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