The Predictive Power of Political Pundits: Prescient or Pitiful?

23 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2013

See all articles by Phillip Metaxas

Phillip Metaxas

Independent

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House; Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU; IZA

Date Written: May 31, 2013

Abstract

Although Australian political pundits frequently make predictions about the future, little systematic evidence exists on the accuracy of these predictions. To assess the predictive power of experts, we survey the transcripts of two well-known political programs – Insiders and Meet the Press – and record all falsifiable forecasts. Looking at the three months prior to both the 2007 and 2010 Federal elections, we are struck by the paucity of falsifiable predictions, with most pundits heavily qualifying their predictions (so that they can never be said to be wrong). In 32 hours of television, we identify 20 falsifiable forecasts in our sample, of which we judge 13 to be correct. We conclude with some suggestions for political talk shows and for political scientists seeking to better analyse expert predictions.

Keywords: expert prediction, forecast accuracy, elections

JEL Classification: D700, D800

Suggested Citation

Metaxas, Phillip and Leigh, Andrew, The Predictive Power of Political Pundits: Prescient or Pitiful? (May 31, 2013). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4261, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2277443

Phillip Metaxas

Independent ( email )

Andrew Leigh (Contact Author)

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House ( email )

Canberra, 2600
Australia

Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU ( email )

ANU College of Business and Economics
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

IZA ( email )

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