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Predicting Elections from Biographical Information about Candidates

  • Armstrong, J. Scott
  • Graefe, Andreas

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.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 16461.

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Date of creation: 23 Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16461
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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 159-73, 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.
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