Who Should Be Nominated to Run in the 2012 Presidential Election? Long-Term Forecasts Based on Candidates' Biographies
14 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 28 Dec 2011
Date Written: 2011
The state of election forecasting has progressed to the point where it is possible to develop highly accurate forecasts for major elections. However, one area that has received little attention is the use of forecasting as an aid to those involved with political campaigns. In the run-up to the presidential primaries, we use the bio-index model to test the chances of potential nominees to defeat President Obama in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. This model uses the index method to incorporate 58 biographical variables (e.g., age, marital status, height, appearance) for making a conditional forecast of the incumbent’s vote-share, depending on who is the opposing candidate. These variables were selected based on received wisdom and findings from prior research. For example, several studies found candidates’ perceived attractiveness or facial competence to be related to their chances of winning an election. The model is particularly valuable for making long-term forecasts of who will win an election and missed the correct winner only twice for the 29 elections from 1896 to 2008. Thus, the model can help candidates to decide whether they should run for office and can advise political interests in deciding whom to support in the primaries and caucuses. The forecasts from the bio-index model are compared to forecasts from polls and prediction markets.
Keywords: elections, forecast, Obama, biography, index method
JEL Classification: D72, C43, C53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation