PS: Political Science & Politics

Features Symposium: Recap: Forecasting the 2012 Election

FORECASTING WITH LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS AND THE POLLS IN 2012

Robert S. Eriksona1 and Christopher Wleziena2

a1 Columbia University

a2 Temple University

On August 1, 2012, we prepared a forecast of the 2012 presidential vote for PS. Our model contains two variables: (1) the cumulated weighted growth in leading economic indicators (LEI) through quarter 13 of the current presidential term and (2) the incumbent party candidate's share in the most recent trial-heat polls, which were for the month of July. What mostly distinguishes our model from others is the reliance on leading indicators from the quarter ending in March of the election year. The early reading of LEI works well as a predictor because it summarizes growth in the economy leading up to the election year and also provides advance indication of changes in the economy during the election year. The exact equation and the exact forecast change as the poll readings change during the election year.

Robert S. Erikson is professor of political science at Columbia University. His research on American elections has been published in a wide range of scholarly journals. He is coauthor of The Timeline of Presidential Elections (Chicago), The Macro-Polity (Cambridge), Statehouse Democracy (Cambridge) and American Public Opinion (Pearson). He is a former editor of the American Journal of Political Science and Political Analysis. He can be reached at res14@columbia.edu.

Christopher Wlezien is professor of political science at Temple University. His research on American and comparative politics has appeared in numerous journals. He is coauthor of The Timeline of Presidential Elections (Chicago) and Degrees of Democracy (Cambridge) and coeditor of a number of other books, including Who Gets Represented? (Russell Sage). He is the former founding editor of The Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties and currently coedits the “Poll Reviews” section of Public Opinion Quarterly. He can be reached at Wlezien@temple.edu.

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