David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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This paper analyzes individual probabilistic predictions of state outcomes in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Employing an original survey of more than 19,000 respondents, ours is the ﬁrst study of electoral forecasting to involve multiple subnational predictions and to incorporate the inﬂuence of respondents’ home states. We relate a range of demographic, political, and cognitive variables to individual accuracy and predictions, as well as to how accuracy improved over time. We ﬁnd strong support for wishful thinking bias in expectations, as Republicans gave higher probabilities to McCain victories and were worse at overall prediction. In addition, we ﬁnd that respondents living in states with higher vote shares for Obama performed better at prediction and displayed less wishful thinking bias. We conclude by showing that suitable aggregations of our respondents’ predictions outperformed Intrade (a prediction market) and ﬁvethirtyeight.com (a poll-based forecast) at most points in time.
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