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Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Seminar

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Baxter B125
Forecasting Elections: Voter Intentions versus Expectations
Justin Wolfers, Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,
Most pollsters base their election projections off questions of voter intentions, which ask If the election were held today, who would you vote for? By contrast, we probe the value of questions probing voters expectations, which typically ask: Regardless of who you plan to vote for, who do you think will win the upcoming election? We demonstrate that polls of voter expectations yield consistently more accurate forecasts than polls of voter intentions. A small-scale structural model reveals that this is because we are polling from a broader information set, and voters respond as if they had polled ten of their friends. This model also provides a rational interpretation for why respondents forecasts are correlated with their expectations. We use our structural model to extract accurate election forecasts from non-random samples.
For more information, please contact Barbara Estrada by phone at Ext. 4083 or by email at [email protected].