Pethokoukis, Politics and Public Opinion

Economic forecasting model predicts Obama will lose in near-landslide


Political scientist Douglas Hibbs looks at two factors when forecasting presidential elections: a) per capita real disposable personal income over the incumbent president’s term, and b) cumulative U.S. military fatalities in overseas conflicts.

And he’s predicting a near-landslide win for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, with Obama losing by about as big a margin in 2012 as he won back in 2008. Under Hibbs Bread and Peace model, Romney wins 52.5% to Obama’s 47.5%.

First, here is how Hibbs sees the “peace” part of his equation.

To project Obama’s 2012 vote I’ll make the plausible assumption that American military fatalities in Afghanistan continue running at the (politically relatively low) average quarterly rate of the past year: 95 or 0.3 per millions of population. At Election Day cumulative Fatalities then would amount to approximately 1500 or 4.8 per millions of population, which would depress Obama’s expected two-­‐party vote share by less than a quarter of a percentage point −0.5 ⋅ 4.8 = −0.24%. Baring a really big escalation in the aggressiveness of fighters resisting US military presence in Afghanistan, plausible alternative assumptions about the flow of American body bags during the next four months would only negligibly affect my projections of Obama’s re-­‐election prospects.

Now the “bread” part of the equation:

Consequently, growth rates of per capita real disposable personal income over the remainder of the term will be the decisive as yet unrealized fundamental factor in the 2012 presidential election. Calculations in the table 3 show that according to the Bread and Peace model per capita real income growth rates must average out at nearly 6 percent after 2012:q2 for Obama to have a decent chance of re-­‐election. If the US economy experiences an unanticipated reversal of fortune with growth surging to rates not uncommon in the initial robust phase of recoveries from deep contractions, Obama could squeak out a win, as implied by the last column of table 3. However the pace of recovery from the 2008 Great Recession remains sluggish, and the famous 2009 book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff documents how recoveries from contractions originating with the bursting of speculative financial bubbles are not V‐shaped as in garden-­variety recessions, but instead are typically prolonged U-­shaped affairs lasting 5 to 6 years. The univariate statistical properties of postwar per capita real disposable personal incomes indicate that the chances of weighted-­average growth on the order of 6% over the one and one-­third quarters remaining until Election Day 2012 are no better than 1/10.

Here is that Table #3 Hibbs refers to. It shows how much of the two-party vote Obama would get under different economic scenarios.

And Hibbs the scenarios shaded in gray as the most likely:

The protocol of the PS Election Forecast Symposium obliges me to make a specific prediction of the 2012 aggregate voting result. My reading of the tea leaves (statistical forecasts of income and output growth from formal econometric models have proven to be useless) leads me to posit that quarterly, annualized per capita real income growth rates will fall in the interval [1.2%] during the remainder of President Obama’s term. That supposition, along with my assumption that fatalities in Afghanistan will not escalate dramatically, yields a projected Obama two-­party vote share centered at 47.5%, as indicated by boldface entries in table 3.

And How is Hibb’s track record?

The only postwar presidential election results not well explained by the Bread and Peace model are 1996 and 2000. In 1996 the vote received by the incumbent Democrat Clinton was 4% higher than expected from political‐economic fundamentals, whereas in 2000 the vote for the incumbent Democratic Party candidate Gore was 4.5% less than expected from fundamentals. I am tempted to argue that idiosyncratic influence of candidate personalities took especially strong form in those elections, with the ever charming Bill Clinton looking especially attractive when pitted against the darkly foreboding Bob Dole in 1996, and the unfailingly wooden Al Gore paling by comparison to an affable George W. Bush in 2000. Alas, this line of reasoning is entirely ad hoc and without scientific merit.

Reading Hibb’s entire paper, I get the sense he is not thrilled with what his model is telling him. He even mentions that he’s a big fan of betting markets, and they show an Obama win. But the model says what it says — even he kind of gently suggests Romney is another stiff, just like Dole and Gore.

80 thoughts on “Economic forecasting model predicts Obama will lose in near-landslide

  1. It’s been 3 and 1/2 years and I have not seen 1 news report of 1 single fatality in Afghanistan nor Iraq. Seems like Jan. 2009 the war ended. How does that factor into the graph ? Google ‘Code Pink’ seems like they folded in 2008.

    • Google it buddy:
      There have been 1,188 U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war since Barack Obama was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2009, according to the database tally of casualties.

      That is a 208 percent increase from the 569 deaths that occurred in the war during the two terms of President George W. Bush.

      • Sure they are around. You just don’t get to see them because they love Obama and the press till not tolerate any form of apostate behavior when it comes to their messiah.

  2. On purely objective factual terms, like the horrible state of the country, and the measurable results of his programs, obama should lose. But who ever said dems were objective or worried about things like measurable success. hopefully there will be enough moderates out there that do though, and have not been brainwashed by the MSM.

  3. This is one article to save and revisit in November. This man is either a genius or a few chads short of a ballot.
    I know which way I’m betting.

  4. Incredibly silly. In order to win, Romney needs to get the majority of electoral votes. At this point, and at this rate, he is falling farther and farther behind. Unless there is something dramatic to shake this up negatively for Obama, he will win by a comfortable margin in the electoral college by narrowly winning battleground states, even if he is totally buried in the Red States and slips in the safe Blue States.

    • Says who? PMSNBC? Obama has not even stammered his way through the first debate. He has not faced any serious questions from an adoring press. Romney, if anything, is not a dummy.

      Obama will look like a cheap huckster when faced with debating a seasoned and knowledgeable businessman.

    • Having studied polling since 1978 we know the following is more than likely to play out.
      1. Pay no attention to polls that ask only “Registered Voters.” 1/3rd of which don’t even bother to show up and vote.
      2. The only polls that matter are “Likely Voters.”
      3. The incumbent always loses slightly more than 2% of vote from where they last polled in a Likely Voter Poll.
      4. 90% of the Undecided voters end up voting for the challenger.
      5. The incumbent usually ends up close to his approval number in the final percentage of the actual vote.
      Using this formula if you go state by state in the leaning or battleground states Romney is ahead in the electoral vote count 315 to Obama’s 201. In addition, if you take the daily Rasmussen tracking poll and use the above formula you will have as of today: Romney 50.6% to Obama’s 43%. Also, Obama’s current job approval is at 46%. Bread and Peace is pretty close to being on target.

  5. Yes, I truly believe that now the momentum is shifting totally to Mr. Romney’s corner. You can feel it in the air. People are preparing for a new dawn. I truly believe that it will be another Reagan period of prosperity and job creation. I truly do. You can feel it. The first year for President Romney will be bumpy of course, but by the second year, we will be feeling the turnaround. Mr. Obama will be a one-term president; he’s ideas and his philosophy were too un-American. He just never got it.
    President Romney, I will be very happy to know that you are going to be our commander-in-chief.

  6. “But the model says what it says — even he kind of gently suggests Romney is another stiff, just like Dole and Gore.”

    So this economic-based model in which “stiff” candidates like Dole and Gore consistently under-perform is supposed to give us confidence in Romney? Winning in a landslide?

    It amazes me how people cannot grasp the simple fact that while a good (or even great) candidate won’t win you the election on that fact alone, a bad candidate can definitely lose an election by that fact alone.

  7. Romney needs to step it up. How? By raising his voice when he talks. We dont want or need another Jimmie C. Start talking with a louder voice instead of your current “soft” spoken volume. Just my thoughts. His message is there but not enough people are listening. START YELLING IT OUT… just like using captal letters when you type or send emails. RAISE YOUR VOICE. /Mikey

  8. Remember how all of Romney’s primary opponents were up by 5, 10, sometimes 15 points only a week or two before the elections? Romney hasn’t even STARTED yet (i.e.-can’t legally spend most of his $$ until the Convention)!! Wait until Urkel gets the “Gingrich” treatment in Sept. and October. It’s not going to be pretty, but, the fact of the matter is that even young voters don’t want to live as quasi-slaves under Socialism. They’re sick of fat bureaucrats trying to control their internet, eating, drinking, and energy use,etc……
    “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” -Barack Obama

  9. We are probably going to give the neo-cons another invasion and occupation, this time Iran, whether Obama is re-elected or replaced by Romney. I hope that you’re right about Romney winning by a landslide. Even though I am not a big Romney fan by any stretch, I do believe that the American nation will be better off if Romney wins………..provided he wins with a strong Republican Congress! Romney is a moderate who can govern well only if conservatism wins a mandate!

  10. Except that Obama, liberal as he is, is not beyond starting a short war to try to maintain his power. He has already scheduled American naval war games in the Persian Gulf for this September. If belligerent Iran cooperates, we could have a nice little patriotic shooting war, an address to Congress and a rally around the Flag, just in the weeks before the election. Obama’s popularity will rise for a short time and possibly give him a boost for election victory.

    Remember, for liberals. the ends-justify-the-means and they will allow some patriotic soldiers to die if it keeps themselves in power.

  11. Models based on electoral trends and past history fail to take into account voter fraud and purposely changing the demnographic and economic dynamics, both of which can have a dramatic effect on electoral outcomes, especially in “winner-take-all” EC votes. The solution is proportional EC votes based on election results, making every state a player in every election.

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