PS: Political Science & Politics

Forecasting Recap


Alan I. Abramowitza1

a1 Emory University

The October 2008 issue of PS published a symposium of presidential and congressional forecasts made in the summer leading up to the election. This article is an assessment of the accuracy of their models.

The Time-for-Change Model proved one of the most accurate of the 2008 presidential election forecasts run in the October PS symposium. Using three predictors—the president's approval rating at mid-year, the growth rate of real GDP during the second quarter, and the time-for-change dummy variable—the model predicted that Barack Obama would win the presidential election with 54.3% of the major-party vote. According to nearly final tabulations compiled by, as of December 8, Obama has received just over 53.6% of the major-party vote. However, it is likely that Obama's final total will reach 53.7% of the major-party vote. Therefore, the model's current error of 0.9 percentage points is likely to decrease further. The model has now correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in all six presidential elections since its creation in 1988.

Alan I. Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his BA from the University of Rochester in 1969 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1976. Abramowitz has authored or coauthored four books, dozens of contributions to edited volumes, and more than 40 articles in political science journals dealing with political parties, elections, and voting behavior in the United States. His most recent book, Voice of the People: Elections and Voting Behavior in the United States, was published in 2004 by McGraw-Hill.