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Forecasting Elections from Voters’ Perceptions of Candidates’ Ability to Handle Issues

Graefe, Andreas and Armstrong, J. Scott (2008): Forecasting Elections from Voters’ Perceptions of Candidates’ Ability to Handle Issues.

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Abstract

Ideally, presidential elections should be decided based on how the candidates would handle issues facing the country. If so, knowledge about the voters’ perception of the candidates should help to forecast election outcomes. Our model, named PollyIssues, provides a forecast of the winner of the popular vote in U.S. Presidential Elections based on the voters’ overall perception of which candidate will do the best job in handle the issues facing the country. The PollyIssues correctly picked the winner for the last ten elections from 1972 to 2008 and provided an idea of the margin of victory. In predicting the two-party vote percentages for the last three elections from 2000 to 2008, its out-of-sample forecasts outperformed those derived from well-established econometric models.

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