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Do Campaigns Matter? (Contemporary American Politics) Paperback – June 18, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0803973459 ISBN-10: 0803973454

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Do Campaigns Matter? (Contemporary American Politics) + Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American Politics (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc (June 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803973454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803973459
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By G.X. Larson on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you know anything about serious election forecasting (not the type done by pundits on television) then you know that they are easily predicted. In fact, anyone with access to Microsoft Excel can create their own reasonably good regression model based on as little as four variables. You could even generate a regression model with pencil and paper (and patience) using only (matrix) arithmetic. Economist Ray Fair (author of Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things) has a well-known model that predicts the proportion of the two-party vote that the incumbent party will receive in an election based on three variables: 1) growth rate of real per capita GDP in the first 3 quarters of an election year; 2) growth rate of the GDP deflator; 3) number of quarters in the first 15 quarters of the incumbent party's term in which the growth rate of real per capita GDP is greater than 3.2 percent at an annual rate. Clearly Fair's hypothesis is that economic conditions shape election outcomes; or, "it's the economy, stupid". It goes without saying that his model can accurately predict the winner of an election even before the candidates have been selected. Other models may incorporate party strength, perceived economic conditions (subjective metrics of the economy, such as consumer sentiment, rather than objective measures used by Fair), party tenure (duration that an incumbent party has held the presidency), and actual measures of candidate popularity such as trial-heat poll data. Many models accurately predict the winner months in advance, which leads us to the question: if American presidential elections are so predictable, do campaigns matter?

The answer is yes and no.
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