Election forecasters preparing for historic election

Jun 23, 2008
Presidential Election Forecaster
University at Buffalo political scientist James E. Campbell has co-edited a journal on election forecasting and is among a group of prominent forecasters preparing for the 2008 presidential election. Credit: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo

Anticipating what is likely to be one of the most interesting elections in modern history, University at Buffalo professor of political science James E. Campbell and Michael S. Lewis-Beck, professor of political science at the University of Iowa, have assembled the insights of prominent election forecasters in a special issue of the International Journal of Forecasting published this month.

Each of the articles demonstrates the challenges of election forecasting, according to Campbell, chair of UB's Department of Political Science, who since 1992 has produced a trial-heat-and-economy forecast of the U.S. presidential election. His forecast uses the second-quarter growth rate in the gross domestic product and results of the trial-heat (preference) poll released by Gallup near Labor Day to predict what percentage of the popular vote will be received by the major party candidates.

The articles range from descriptions of diverse election forecasting models, such as those that use political futures markets and historical analysis, to articles that evaluate the success of election forecasting in past elections.

Two of the articles address a topic particularly pertinent to the 2008 presidential election: whether open seat and incumbent elections should be treated differently by election forecasters.

"One of the biggest misunderstandings about election forecasting is the idea that accurate forecasts must assume that the campaign does not matter," Campbell explains. "This is not true.

"First, one of the reasons that forecasts can be accurate is that they are based on measures of the conditions that influence campaigns. So campaign effects are, to a significant degree, predictable.

"Second, forecasters know that their forecasts are not perfect. Forecasts are based on imperfect measures and may not capture all of the factors affecting a campaign. Some portion of campaign effects is always unpredictable."

Though some campaign effects are unpredictable "the extent of these effects is usually limited," Campbell points out.

In the historic contest between presumptive presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain one thing is certain: "Forecasting this election will be more difficult than usual," Campbell says.

"First, there isn't an incumbent. Approval ratings and the economy are likely to provide weaker clues to an election's outcome when the incumbent is not running. Second, Democrats had a very divided nomination contest and it is unclear how lasting the divisions will be.

"Third, many Republicans are not very enthusiastic about McCain and it is unclear how strong Republican turnout will be for him."

Of the six different forecast models described in the journal articles, only two have a forecast at this point. The other four will have forecasts between late July and Labor Day. The journal articles can be downloaded at www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01692070 .

Source: University at Buffalo

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superhuman
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 23, 2008
Obama is black therefore McCain will win.
Modernmystic
3.3 / 5 (6) Jun 23, 2008
Huh by that logic superhuman then the following should have been true...

Obama is black therefore Clinton will win.
superhuman
2.4 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2008
Clinton is female...
lengould100
4.3 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2008
Don't you just hate those sites that "publish" interesting information, but only make it available for a price?
snwboardn
4.8 / 5 (5) Jun 23, 2008
I really doubt race will play a big role in this election... I think people are more concerned with the amount they are paying for gas and food to worry about the color of a potential candidate that may or may not get us out of this energy debt. I believe McCain will win because he is pro drilling. Obama may be forced into getting on the band wagon but we will see. I saw a poll (on the news, so who knows how accurate it is) that 75% of Americans are in favor of offshore drilling. That is a very substantial number if you are a candidate. I just hope that somebody gets a hold of the money that has foresight into the future and puts alot of the profits into R&D for future development of energy. I hope this oil crisis is a wakeup call about how short term oil is as a reliable energy source.
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2008
So let's push this argument to it's logical ends. Are you saying superhuman that there were NO WHITE MALES running against Obama in the primaries?

Because if there were well your argument is....flawed (the nicest word I could think of).
h1ghj3sus
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2008
I think a 3rd party candidate is due for victory... fight the demublicans.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2008
I couldn't agree more h1, the problem is that MOST third parties aren't any better.

Republicans and Democrats are two sides of the same coin...one want's to use the government to beat you over the head with the bible, the other want's the government to beat you over your head with your wallet. Usually third parties are a mixture of the two. Personally I don't see any hope for this country whatsoever. We're headed the way of Rome FAST, and it's WAAAAYYY too late to change course.
photojack
2.5 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2008
I certainly hope this nation has the sense to see that McCain would be a direct continuation of Bush's multiple failed policies and strategies. Go to Truthout.org and search for, "The Real McCain" if you want to see what I mean. The energy situation, food prices and the economy, not to mention America's war in Iraq can change quite quickly with an administration that cares and promises the necessary changes. It is not "WAAAAYYY" too late and we are not stuck where we are. We have to vote the bums out that got us into this mess.
The highest level Republicans have been falling through corruptions, resignings and criminal convictions. Won't people wake up and see that they are the party of big business, corruption and scandal? The one party that is committed to helping the working class to improve their status, ensure universal health care, guarantee a woman's right to choose, keep church and state separate (something Bush has failed miserably at), protect the environment, foster the development of science and so much more is the Democratic party. Ending the ridiculous tax breaks for the richest in this country, which tends to "buy" their votes and garner party donations and these "economic stimulus" tax refunds, which coincidentally came in election years all are ways these goons try to buy votes and influence people who can't see the forest for the trees. WAKE UP AMERICA!
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 23, 2008
Hahhaha I have to ammend my previous post based on what I read from photojack, there actually IS a difference between the democrats and republicans, the democrats will destroy the country in less than 200 years, the republicans less than 300.

"WAKE UP AMERICA"? To what? Vote DEMOCRAT? Puuuulllease. This is a PERFECT example of why I said it's way too late to save the country, couldn't have come up with a better example if I tried.

P.S. A good definition of insanity is "Trying the same set of actions over and over and expecting a different result".
superhuman
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2008
I simply believe that both race and gender matter much more to many voters than they are willing to admit.

Political correctness is only skin deep.
Modernmystic
1.8 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2008
Well obviously they don't, Obama did with the primaries, not only that he was in the final stretch with a woman. I think that you might want to modify your opinion to a more rational position based on observational data.
snwboardn
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2008
Dang superhuman I just gave you 5 on your post about light traveling through liquid crystals... Little did I know you were the same person I just gave a 2 for on this post. I will agree with you that there are many more people that are anti equal opportunity than they lead on. Only when there are less concerning issues in their lives though. In dire situations, which I believe most Americans feel we are in, they are a less worried about who leads them as long as they are confident someone can lead them.
superhuman
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2008
If the votes prove me wrong i will modify my opinion. Not any sooner though.

And I don't think it applies to premises as much as to the final election.

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