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

See all articles by Andreas Graefe

Andreas Graefe

Macromedia University of Applied Sciences

J. Scott Armstrong

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Date Written: October 5, 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Graefe, Andreas and Armstrong, J. Scott, Predicting Elections from the Most Important Issue: A Test of the Take-the-Best Heuristic (October 5, 2011). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1938849

Andreas Graefe

Macromedia University of Applied Sciences ( email )

Sandstrasse 9
Munich, Bavaria 80337
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.andreas-graefe.org

J. Scott Armstrong (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States
215-898-5087 (Phone)
215-898-2534 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://marketing.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty/armstrong.cfm

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