Obama poised to win 2012 election with 303 electoral votes: The Signal Forecast
By David Rothschild & Chris Wilson
With fewer than nine months to go before Election Day, The Signal predicts that Barack Obama will win the presidential contest with 303 electoral votes to the Republican nominee’s 235.
How do we know? We don’t, of course. Campaigns and candidates evolve, and elections are dynamic events with more variables than can reasonably be distilled in an equation. But the data–based on a prediction engine created by Yahoo! scientists–suggest a second term is likely for the current president. This model does not use polls or prediction markets to directly gauge what voters are thinking. Instead, it forecasts the results of the Electoral College based on past elections, economic indicators, measures of state ideology, presidential approval ratings, incumbency, and a few other politically agnostic factors.
We’ll dip into what the model says in a moment, but first a note about models in general: there are a lot of them, from complex equations generated by nerdy academics (like the team at The Signal) to funny coincidences like the Redskins Rule, which holds that the incumbent party keeps the White House if Washington’s football team wins its last home game. (This is true in 17 of the last 18 elections!) Every year, some of these models are right and some are wrong, and the difference is often just luck. As a result, models get a bad rap as being very good at predicting the past and lousy at predicting the future.