Obama or Romney? Political Sciencist Forecast the Winner

Obama or Romney?
What Factors Predict the Presidential Election?
Political Scientists Forecast the Winner

The American Political Science Association hosted a panel discussion on the 2012 election predictions featuring four of the forecast authors.

Tuesday, October 16
9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
National Press Club, First Amendment Lounge
529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC

photos by Richard Houston

Read the Research & Findings

Forecasting models developed by prominent political scientists give a slight edge to Barack Obama to win the popular vote over Mitt Romney in the 2012 US presidential election, with 8 of 13 polls giving Obama the edge over Romney. On average, the models predict Obama will receive 50.2% of the two-party popular vote. For comparison, in 2008, Obama received 53.7% of the two-party popular vote.

Five of the 13 models predict a modest to close popular-vote plurality for Barack Obama, though three of these are on the cusp of predicting a tossup; five predict a modest to close popular vote victory for Mitt Romney; and three regard the election as a tossup. The forecasts range from predicting a 53.8% vote for Obama to a 53.1% vote for Romney.

All of the predictions appear in an election-themed symposium in the October issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association (APSA). The forecasts are based on different combinations of statistical and historical data and differ in their complexity and how far in advance their predictions were made. The earliest forecast was made 299 days in advance while the latest was made 57 days before the election. Together, these forecasts use a range of approaches and indicators that are critical to understanding national electoral processes and the dynamics at work in US presidential elections.

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Watch the Presentations

2012 Forecasting Panel Introduction
James Campbell

Leading Economic Indicators and the Polls Model
Christopher Wlezien

Jobs and the Proxy Models
Michael S. Lewis-Beck

National Conditions and Incumbency Model
Thomas Holbrook

Trial-Heat Model and Convention Bump Model
James Campbell

Forecasting Authors & Panelists

James E. Campbell University of Buffalo

James E. Campbell
University of Buffalo

James E. Campbell is UB Distinguished Professor at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York. He is editor of the presidential election forecast symposium in the October 2012 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics. His research interests include election forecasting, the economic records of presidents, swing voters and presidential elections, electoral realignments, and the polarization of the electorate. He has been widely published, including numerous books and in major political science journals.

Thomas M. Holbrook University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Thomas M. Holbrook
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Thomas M. Holbrook is Wilder Crane Professor of Government and chair at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. His research interests are political behavior, campaigns and elections, and state politics. Professor Holbrook has written extensively on presidential campaigns and has had many articles published in Political Research Quarterly and American Journal of Political Science, and he wrote the book, Do Campaigns Matter?

Michael S. Lewis-Beck University of Iowa

Michael S. Lewis-Beck
University of Iowa

Michael S. Lewis-Beck is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa. His research interests are comparative elections, election forecasting, and political economy. Professor Lewis-Beck has authored or co-authored more than 200 articles and books, including Economics and Elections, The American Voter Revisited, and Forecasting Elections. Currently, he is associate editor of International Journal of Forecasting and data editor of French Politics.

Christopher Wlezien Temple University

Christopher Wlezien
Temple University

Christopher Wlezien is Professor of Political Science at Temple University. His research interests are public opinion and policy and voter preferences over the course of the election cycle. He has written numerous articles, co-authored The Timeline of Presidential Elections and Degrees of Democracy, and edited Who Gets Represented?.  His most recent paper compares the historical performance of election prediction markets and pre-election polls.


About PS: Political Science & Politics
PS: Political Science & Politics is the journal of record for political science reporting on research, teaching, and professional development. PS, first published in 1968, is the only quarterly professional news and commentary journal in the field and is the prime source of information on political scientists' achievements and professional concerns.

About the American Political Science Association
The American Political Science Association, founded in 1903, is the leading professional organization for the study of political science and serves more than 15,000 members in more than 80 countries. With a range of programs and services, APSA brings together political scientists from all fields of inquiry, regions, and occupational endeavors, within and outside academe, with the aim of expanding awareness and understanding of politics.