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Predicting Elections from Biographical Information about Candidates

Author

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  • Armstrong, J. Scott
  • Graefe, Andreas

Abstract

Using the index method, we developed the PollyBio model to predict election outcomes. The model, based on 49 cues about candidates’ biographies, was used to predict the outcome of the 28 U.S. presidential elections from 1900 to 2008. In using a simple heuristic, it correctly predicted the winner for 25 of the 28 elections and was wrong three times. In predicting the two-party vote shares for the last four elections from 1996 to 2008, the model’s out-of-sample forecasts yielded a lower forecasting error than 12 benchmark models. By relying on different information and including more variables than traditional models, PollyBio improves on the accuracy of election forecasting. It is particularly helpful for forecasting open-seat elections. In addition, it can help parties to select the candidates running for office.

Suggested Citation

  • Armstrong, J. Scott & Graefe, Andreas, 2009. "Predicting Elections from Biographical Information about Candidates," MPRA Paper 16461, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16461
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Graefe, Andreas & Armstrong, J. Scott, 2008. "Forecasting Elections from Voters’ Perceptions of Candidates’ Positions on Issues and Policies," MPRA Paper 9829, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Lichtman, Allan J., 2008. "The keys to the white house: An index forecast for 2008," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 301-309.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How to select presidential candidates based on their biography
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-09-14 19:58:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cote, Joseph A., 2011. "Predicting elections from biographical information about candidates: A commentary essay," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 696-698, July.
    2. Voss, Kevin E., 2011. "Voss wins the Presidency! A commentary essay on "Predicting elections from biographical information about candidates: A test of the index method"," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 345-347, April.
    3. Graefe, Andreas & Armstrong, J. Scott, 2011. "Conditions under which index models are useful: Reply to bio-index commentaries," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 693-695, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    forecasting; unit weighting; Dawes rule; differential weighting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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