Obama leads in (at least) eight of 13 election forecasts

September 14, 2012

Political scientist James Campbell has an article in the upcoming edition of the journal PS: Political Science and Politics that surveys 13 models that attempt to forecast the presidential election. Larry Sabato got an early peek at the table, and the bottom line is that eight of them foresee Barack Obama's reelection and five of them predict that Mitt Romney will be our next president. Here's the table:

James E. Campbell, “Forecasting the 2012 American National Elections: Editor’s Introduction,” PS: Political Science & Politics, v.45, n.4 (October 2012), forthcoming.

As Sabato notes, the average prediction is that President Obama will receive 50.2 percent of the two-party vote — a much closer election than we saw in 2008, when he received 53.7 percent of the two-party vote.

Moreover, that also predicts a closer election than we're seeing right now. Currently, the Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Obama a 3.2 percent lead — less than the 7.3 percent margin he enjoyed in 2008, but more than the 0.4 percent margin predicted by the models.

Note that this table does not include forecasts like Nate SIlver's model or Sam Wang's meta-analysis, both of which are also predicting an Obama victory.

If Obama retains his current lead through the election, it will be fair to say that he overperformed the fundamentals — or, perhaps, that Romney underperformed the fundamentals. But remember that the polls right now are showing post-convention numbers that may or may not persist, and that the general trend in elections is that the polls tighten slightly as election day approaches.

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