'Scientific' model projects Obama victory

The Signal -- a Yahoo! blog using an engine that "combines powerful scientific algorithms with multiple, real-time and historical data sources to generate predictions" -- says Obama will win 303 electoral votes to the Republican candidate's 235.

"Campaigns and candidates matter, and elections are dynamic events with more variables than could ever reasonably be distilled in an equation," adds The Signal. "But based on a real-time prediction engine that we have created with Yahoo! scientists, the data suggest a likely second-term for the current presidents."

Also note that The Signal projects Obama winning three states with less than 51% of the vote: Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. Should those three states -- and their 35 electoral votes -- shift to the GOP, the Republican candidate would win 270-268.

From The Signal:

We have examined the last ten presidential cycles and found that the Yahoo! model would have correctly predicted the winner in 88 percent of the 500 individual state elections, with an margin of error of just under 3 percentage points for our estimated vote share.

(We exclude Washington, D.C. in the model and assume it will definitely go for the Democratic candidate.)

This makes these predictions appreciably more accurate than the next best model for forecasting the Electoral College by the end of the second quarter of the election year. Furthermore, they are more accurate than polls until just after the conventions.

Using the Yahoo! model, given plausible economic and political trends, Barack Obama's reelection likelihood looks good for Democrats.

We assume that the president's approval rating stays the same between now and mid-June, each of the 50 states reports personal income growth that is average for an election year, and certain key indicators of state ideology remain unchanged this year. In this case, our model predicts that Barack Obama will carry 303 electoral votes this fall, 33 more than needed for victory.

To hedge our bets a bit, however, please note that our model predicts probabilities of victory, and that many states in both the Republican and Obama camps are nearly toss-ups.

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