Reviews of Important Papers on Political Forecasting

This section includes papers on political forecasting methods reviewed by J. Scott Armstrong in the International Journal of Forecasting and other major journals, reproduced by the kind permission of the journals in which they originally appeared, as well as of Elsevier Science. Readers are invited to submit comments, including dissents, and also reviews of their favorite papers and articles on political forecasting methods. 

  • Brouthers, Lance Eliot (1986), "Parties, ideology and elections: The politics of federal revenues and expenditures forecasting," International Journal of Public Administration, 8, 289-314.

An examination of federal revenue and expenditure forecasts from  1950-1984. Democratic administrations overestimated the deficits and Republicans underestimated them.

  • Buchanan, William (1986) ,"Election predictions: An empirical  assessment,"Public Opinion Quarterly. 50. 222-227.

Sampling errors represented only about one-half of total forecasting error.

  • Fair, RayPredicting Presidential Elections and Other Things, Stanford University Press; Stanford, CA 2002), International Journal for Forecasting, 19, 760-761.

  • Frank, Howard A.and Jane McCollough  (1992), "Municipal forecasting practice: 'Demand' and  'supply' side perspectives,"International Journal of Public  Administration, 15, 1669-1696.

Local government finance officers do not rely heavily on formal forecasting methods.

If people are asked whether they will vote, they are more likely to vote.

  • Lau, Richard R. (1994), "An  analysis of the accuracy of 'trial heat' polls during the 1992 presidential election," Public Opinion Quarterly, 58, 2-20.

Examined 56 national surveys - sample size of polls had little relationship to accuracy.

  • Lemert, James B. (1986), "Picking the winners: Politician vs. voter predictions  of two controversial ballot measures,"Public Opinion Quarterly  50, 208-221.

Expert surveys of politicians were more accurate than voter polls.

  • Peverill, Squire (1988)>, "Why  the 1936 Literary Digest Poll Failed?,"Public Opinion Quarterly,  52, 125-133.

Although sampling error was part of the failure, the primary culprit was non-response bias.

  • Shamir, Jacob (1986), "Pre-election polls in Israel: Structural constraints on  accuracy,"Public Opinion Quarterly 50, 62-75.

Independent pollsters were much more accurate than pollsters hired by advocates.

  • Simonton, Dean Keith (1981), "Presidential greatness and performance: can we predict  leadership in the White House?" Journal of Personality,  49, 306-323.

Study of the leadership of 38 presidents: IQ, education, age, and political experience had no relationship to success as a president.

  • Weimann, Gabriel (1990), "The  obsession to forecast: Pre-election polls in the Israeli press," Public Opinion  Quarterly, 54, 396-408.

Political polls that report their methodology turned out to be much more accurate than those that did not.