Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections

38 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2007 Last revised: 6 Aug 2010

See all articles by Daniel J. Benjamin

Daniel J. Benjamin

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2006

Abstract

We showed 10-second, silent video clips of unfamiliar gubernatorial debates to a group of experimental participants and asked them to predict the election outcomes. The participants' predictions explain more than 20 percent of the variation in the actual two-party vote share across the 58 elections in our study, and their importance survives a range of controls, including state fixed effects. In a horse race of alternative forecasting models, participants' visual forecasts significantly outperform economic variables in predicting vote shares, and are comparable in predictive power to a measure of incumbency status. Adding policy information to the video clips by turning on the sound tends, if anything, to worsen participants' accuracy, suggesting that naïveté may be an asset in some forecasting tasks.

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Daniel J. and Shapiro, Jesse M., Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections (November 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12660. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=941967

Daniel J. Benjamin

USC, Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jesse M. Shapiro (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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