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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The End of Election Modeling

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the politics of economic policy.

At Marketplace, Kimberly Adams says that the economy  is becoming less predictive of political attitudes and behavior.
As a result, according to Alan Abramowitz, a professor emeritus of political science at Emory University, “these sorts of forecasting models that incorporate measures of economic conditions are just not working very well anymore.”

Abramowitz said another reason forecasting is harder these days is that, although models can be quite good at predicting the popular vote, that’s not how presidents are elected in the United States.

“What ultimately matters, of course, is the electoral vote,” Abramowitz said, referring to the Electoral College, “and the electoral vote hinges on the outcomes in a handful of closely contested states. Well, that’s very difficult to predict.”

For the first time in his decadeslong career, Abramowitz said he won’t even bother trying to put together a forecasting model this year.

“I know that enterprise continues, people will continue to do this,” he said. “I am so skeptical about the value of this particular enterprise right now … I’d rather leave it to others to try to figure out how to do this. And I think a lot of us who’ve been in this game for a long time probably feel about the same way.”

Views of the economy used to shape political choices.  Increasingly, it is the other way around. 

Kathy Frankovic at YouGov:

In 2000, a change in presidential administration from Democratic to Republican shifted the way partisanship affects economic views – even without a real change in economic measures. Economic assessments shifted in the opposite direction when Biden succeeded Trump as president. At the beginning of the Trump administration, Republicans and Democrats differed on how they saw the economy moving, with Republicans far more likely than Democrats to say the economy was getting better and Democrats far more likely to say it was getting worse. That difference was even larger in the weeks before the 2020 election. A month after Joe Biden’s victory — which was a month before his inauguration — Democrats remained negative on the direction of the economy, while Republicans were moving in that direction. The responses in the week before and the week after the inauguration show large movements in both parties. By the time Biden took office, Republicans viewed economic trends more negatively and Democrats saw them more positively.