Forecasting Us Presidential Elections

Thomas Holbrook

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Forecasting Us Presidential Elections

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  • Politics
  • UK Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article offers an assessment of the current state of US presidential election forecasting models. It pays attention to presidential forecasting models from the last three election cycles. It starts by exploring ‘under the hood’ and describes the specifics of the most widely known models from the 2004 election. In addition, the predictions made by these models are addressed and the determinants of forecasting accuracy from 1996 to 2004 are identified. Moreover, the article explores the lessons learned from the 2000 campaign and the alternatives to the dominant aggregate-national forecasting models: electronic markets, citizen forecasts, and state-level forecasting models. From a forecasting perspective, the 2008 election outcome was business as usual. Some models were more accurate than others, as is always the case, but the average error was somewhat lower than in the past two elections cycles.

Keywords: US presidential election; state-level forecasting models; campaign; electronic markets; citizen forecasts

Article.  8652 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; UK Politics ; Political Behaviour

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