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Choice and Chance in the 2015 Election

John Rentoul

Sides TheGamble e1385578633349 296x300 Choice and Chance in the 2015 ElectionBrilliant column by Daniel Finkelstein, or Lord Finkelstein as we shall have to get used to calling him, in today’s Times (pay wall). About a book called The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck.

It recounts an experiment in election forecasting, which is relevant to some of my recent comments about predicting the 2015 election.

Sides and Vavreck say that campaigning by the candidates didn’t make much difference and mostly cancelled out. They looked at economic indicators and predicted Barack Obama would win by 52.9 per cent. Eventually he won by 51.9 per cent, possibly because economic growth turned out to be lower than forecast.

Sides and Vavreck’s conclusion, as paraphrased by Lord Finkelstein, is:

All that counts is the way that GDP and disposable income is travelling very near to election day.

That strikes me as a bit “the economy, stupid” determinist. But there is a reason I have taken such a close interest in those disposable income figures recently.

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  • Pacificweather

    If a person is in a position to work more hours for more pay then his disposable income will rise but that might make him hate the government that forced him to take such steps to keep the wolf from the door.

  • mightymark

    “Sides and Vavreck say that campaigning by the candidates didn’t make much difference and mostly cancelled out. ”

    It may well be that parties know this but logically then, if one party doesn’t campaign the other if it does, then gets some advantag. For what it is worth I have while campaigning myself often had the impression that we are merely doing what we do to prevent the other side getting a campaigning advantage rather than to actually advance our own candidate(s) which is indeed, probably all down to other factors.

  • reformist lickspittle

    This could well be a case of correlation not equalling causation.


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