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Forecasting Elections from Voters’ Perceptions of Candidates’ Positions on Issues and Policies

Graefe, Andreas and Armstrong, J. Scott (2008): Forecasting Elections from Voters’ Perceptions of Candidates’ Positions on Issues and Policies.

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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. We make two forecasts of the winner of the popular vote in the U.S. Presidential Election. One is based on voters’ perceptions of how the candidates would deal with issues (problems facing the country) if elected. We show that this approach would have correctly picked the winner for the three elections from 1996 to 2004. The other is based on voters’ preference for policies and their perceptions of which policies the candidates are likely to pursue. Both approaches lead to a forecast that Democrat candidate Barack Obama will win the popular vote.

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