Presidential Vote Equation--November 6, 1998
I have updated my presidential vote equation through the 1996 election and have used the updated equation to predict 2000. This work is described in Fair (1998). The specification of the equation has not been changed from the one used to predict the 1996 election. The equation has simply been reestimated using updated data. The equation to predict 2000 is
  • V = .423 + .0070g3 - .0072p15 + .0091n
  • V = Democratic share of the two-party presidential vote in 2000.
  • g3 = growth rate of real per capita GDP in the first 3 quarters of 2000 (annual rate).
  • p15 = growth rate of the GDP deflator in the first 15 quarters of the second Clinton administration, 1997:1-2000:3 (annual rate).
  • n = number of quarters in the first 15 quarters of the second Clinton administration in which the growth rate of real per capita GDP is greater than 3.2 percent at an annual rate.

Given predictions of the economic variables, g3, p15, and n, the equation can be used to predict the vote share. The values of p15 and n using the data up to the time of this writing (November 6, 1998) and the October 10, 1998, Blue Chip consensus forecast are 1.7 percent and 3, respectively. The Blue Chip consensus forecast for g3 is .9 percent. Using these values, the predicted value for V from the above equation is .445. The estimated standard error of the equation is .0215, and so this prediction is a little more than two standard errors below .5. If the Blue Chip consensus forecast is replaced with the November 3, 1998, US model forecast, the values of p15, n, and g3 are 1.4 percent, 3, and .9 percent, respectively. Using these values, the predicted value for V is .447.

Both the Blue Chip forecast and the US model forecast have the economy growing only moderately between now and the election, and so even though inflation is low, the economy is not a big plus for the Democrats. More growth in 1999 and 2000 would be needed to bring the predicted value of V above .5. So based on the assumption of only moderate growth rates between now and the election, the vote equation says that the Republicans have an edge in the 2000 election.

More details about this update are in Fair (1998). This paper also contains all the data that have been used, and so the results in the paper can be easily duplicated if desired. Some have found that the equation is a nice device for econometric teaching purposes. A more complete discussion of the specification of the equation is in Fair (1996). The original paper in this series is Fair (1978).

Two memos regarding the vote equation and the 1996 election were posted on this site, one dated August 2, 1996 and one dated November 6, 1996 (the day after the election). They can be accessed by clicking August 2, 1996, Memo and November 6, 1996, Memo.

Finally, John S. Irons put together for the 1996 election a neat Web page that allowed you to enter your own economic assumptions and predict V. You could also do historical analyses. Hopefully he will update this site for the 2000 election. The latest link I have for this site is John S. Irons.

  • Fair, Ray C. (1978), "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President," Review of Economics and Statistics, 60: 159-173.
  • Fair, Ray C. (1996), "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President: 1992 Update," Political Behavior, 18: 119-139.
  • Fair, Ray C. (1998), "The Effect of Economic Events on Votes for President: 1996 Update," November 6, unpublished.
The 1996 update of the vote equation was posted on this site on November 6, 1998. After this posting John Kitchen pointed out to me an error in the update. The definition of the duration variable, DUR, should be that it is 0 for one term, then 1 (or -1) for two consecutive terms, then 1.25 (or -1.25) for three consecutive terms, and so on. This (correct) definition matches the values in Table A-1, which were used for the estimation. All the coefficient estimates in the update are thus correct. I did, however, use the wrong value of DUR for the 2000 forecast. The value of DUR (according to the correct definition) should be 1, not 0 as I used. I have thus corrected the vote forecasts for 2000 (and the definition) in the paper. Using a value of DUR of 1 rather than 0 leads to a smaller predicted vote share for the Democrats.

I would like to thank John Kitchen for pointing out the error. I have left the date of the paper and the date of the posting unchanged (from November 6, 1998) since no coefficient estimates were changed. The voting equation that is being used for the forecasts existed as of this date.