The Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump presidential race has shown that we should all expect the unexpected--but what can we actually expect from the US election? With just weeks to go before Americans go to the polls, this month's Special Issue of PS: Political Science & Politics asks top pollsters to offer their predictions.
Guest Editor James E. Campbell from the University at Buffalo--himself a highly respected election expert--has drawn together top election forecasters in the US to predict the outcome of the campaign. Each forecasting model draws on statistical analysis of historical data, with a proven track record of accuracy in capturing how different pre-campaign contexts have predicted voting patterns in the past.
Six of the eleven forecasts predict that Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump with 51% or more of the two-party presidential vote. Two predict a Trump victory over Clinton by the same margin. The remaining three forecasts predict a very close election. The median forecast predicts that Clinton will win 51.1% of the two-party national popular vote.
Campbell points out that these forecasting models proved to be highly accurate in the 2012 election--with seven of the eleven forecasts ending up just one and half percentage points away from the actual two-party popular vote.
In this most unpredictable of election seasons, the final outcome may still be too close to call. But while all eyes are turned to the presidential election, four of the articles in the collection also venture forecasts of what we might expect from the congressional elections. For these races, the context more clearly favors one party: the Democrats.
Other articles included in this Special Issue of PS: Political Science & Politics (Vol. 49, No. 4) delve into the dynamics behind the US elections in more detail. They ask questions such as whether candidates benefit from playing the woman card? Who attacks whom and when via social media? And whether the lessons from the famous Harry Potter series may influence public reactions to Donald Trump. Diana C. Mutz from the University of Pennsylvania finds that the more Potter books one has read, the lower one's evaluations of Trump seem to be. The messages of tolerance for difference and opposition to punitive policies appear to influence Harry Potter readers' policy views, as well as their lack of support for Trump, according to Mutz.
A series of articles on the National Popular Vote Plan focuses on the controversy over the proposed presidential electoral reform. While Darin DeWitt and Thomas Schwartz argue that the proposal would be "needlessly calamitous," John R. Koza counter-argues that the reforms would guarantee the presidency to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which is not currently the case.
Finally, an insightful article by Herbert F. Weisberg (Emeritus Professor at The Ohio State University) provides an intellectual history of the creation of The American Voter, the 1960 book that revolutionized the analysis of American voting behavior.
To read the Elections in Focus Special Issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, follow this link.