Predicting Elections from the Most Important Issue: A Test of the Take-the-Best Heuristic
Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 5, 2011
We used the take-the-best heuristic to develop a model to forecast the popular two party vote shares in U.S. presidential elections. The model draws upon information about how voters expect the candidates to deal with the most important issue facing the country. We used cross-validation to calculate a total of 1,000 out-of-sample forecasts, one for each of the last 100 days of the ten U.S. presidential elections from 1972 to 2008. Ninety-seven percent of forecasts correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote. The model forecasts were competitive compared to forecasts from methods that incorporate substantially more information (e.g., econometric models and the Iowa Electronic Markets). The purpose of the model is to provide fast advice on which issues candidates should stress in their campaign.
Keywords: econometric model, forecasting, elections
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