Summary: In February I predicted the outcome of the election: President Romney will prove an effective President, reshaping America for his key supporters, 17 April 2012. Here’s an update.
The polls show a tight race (see Nate Silver’s blog at the New York Times). With so few undecided voters, which party gets the greatest turnout might determine the winner. Especially since so few Americans vote. Heavy rain in Ohio might change US history.
Let’s look at a different methodology. There has been much media attention to the computer model by Ken Bickers and Michael Berry, Professors of Political Science at the University of Colorado – Denver. It successfully hindcast all 8 presidential elections back to 1980 (the earliest for which economic data is available). Here is their latest report: “Forecasting the 2012 Presidential Election with State-Level Economic Indicators” in Political Science & Politics, October 2012.
Their forecast: a massive win for Romney:
“Our prediction, based on the model analyzing returns from the prior eight presidential elections is that the president will win 17 states, plus the District of Columbia. … our forecast is that Obama will receive 47.14% of the two-party popular vote. Using confidence intervals around each individual state forecast and aggregating to a national popular vote as earlier described, our model projects a likelihood of 77% that Romney will receive a majority of the ballots cast for the two major parties.”
Nearly all forecast models of US presidential elections provide estimates of the national two-party vote (Campbell 2008). Each of the 9 forecasts published in the 2008 forecasting issue of PS: Political Science and Politics made national popular vote total predictions for the major party candidates, while only one provided an expected result in the Electoral College (Klarner 2008).
These national vote models are assumed to be reliable forecasts of who is likely to win the general election. In most cases, this assumption is reasonable.
It becomes problematic, however, at precisely the point that forecasts are most interesting: when elections are close. In tight elections, national forecasts can and have produced a “winner” different from the actual winner.
Consider the forecasts and ultimate outcome of the 2000 election. Each of the 2000 presidential election forecasts predicted vice president Al Gore to win a majority of the two-party popular vote, which he did, but none correctly predicted governor George W. Bush to assume the presidency (Campbell 2001).
Never in US history have White House residents been determined through a national popular vote. Presidential elections are decided through contests in the states and the District of Columbia. The forecast model we developed explicitly models the presidential contest based on factors inherent to these 51 jurisdictions. This modeling approach allows us to make a projection of the Electoral College result, which popular vote estimates cannot.
For More Information
For more see the posts listed on these related FM Reference Pages:
Other posts about our elections:
- Lilliput or America – who has a better way to choose its leaders?, 19 November 2008
- About campaigns for high office in America – we always expect a better result from the same process, 17 June 2009
- The economy speaks – and votes, 12 August 2010
- The winners and losers from this election, hidden amidst the noise, 3 November 2010
- Why do awesome people – like us – have such inadequate leaders?, 2 April 2012 — Because we vote.
- The presidential debates are performance art. They’re Kabuki., 4 October 2012
- A reminder that debates are fun, not politics: Reagan had Alzheimer’s in 1984 and we didn’t notice., 5 October 2012
About the 2012 campaign:
- Campaign finance reform = incumbent protection, 20 December 2009
- Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections, 5 February 2010
- Mitt Romney and the Empire of Hubris. Setting America on a path to decline., 10 October 2011
- The hidden dynamics of the 2012 campaign, and what it’s doing to America, 9 March 2012
- President Romney will prove an effective President, reshaping America for his constituents., 17 April 2012
- Romney back on top. More evidence that the campaign news matters little. It’s the economy!, 19 July 2012
- The significance for America of Romney’s choice of Ryan as VP, 11 August 2012
- Our choice of a leader reflects our true self. What does 2012 tell about America?, 19 September 2012