Probabilistic polling and voting in the 2008 presidential election

Evidence from the American life panel

Adeline Delavande, Charles F. Manski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article reports new empirical evidence on probabilistic polling, which asks persons to state in percent-chance terms the likelihood that they will vote and for whom. Before the 2008 presidential election, seven waves of probabilistic questions were administered biweekly to participants in the American Life Panel (ALP). Actual voting behavior was reported after the election. We find that responses to the verbal and probabilistic questions are well-aligned ordinally. Moreover, the probabilistic responses predict voting behavior beyond what is possible using verbal responses alone. The probabilistic responses have more predictive power in early August, and the verbal responses have more power in late October. However, throughout the sample period, one can predict voting behavior better using both types of responses than either one alone. Studying the longitudinal pattern of responses, we segment respondents into those who are consistently pro-Obama, consistently anti-Obama, and undecided/vacillators. Membership in the consistently pro- or anti-Obama group is an almost perfect predictor of actual voting behavior, while the undecided/vacillators group has more nuanced voting behavior. We find that treating the ALP as a panel improves predictive power: current and previous polling responses together provide more predictive power than do current responses alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-459
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

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voting behavior
presidential election
voting
evidence
response behavior
voter
Group
election
Voting
Presidential Elections
Polling
human being
Voting Behavior
Barack Obama

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title = "Probabilistic polling and voting in the 2008 presidential election: Evidence from the American life panel",
abstract = "This article reports new empirical evidence on probabilistic polling, which asks persons to state in percent-chance terms the likelihood that they will vote and for whom. Before the 2008 presidential election, seven waves of probabilistic questions were administered biweekly to participants in the American Life Panel (ALP). Actual voting behavior was reported after the election. We find that responses to the verbal and probabilistic questions are well-aligned ordinally. Moreover, the probabilistic responses predict voting behavior beyond what is possible using verbal responses alone. The probabilistic responses have more predictive power in early August, and the verbal responses have more power in late October. However, throughout the sample period, one can predict voting behavior better using both types of responses than either one alone. Studying the longitudinal pattern of responses, we segment respondents into those who are consistently pro-Obama, consistently anti-Obama, and undecided/vacillators. Membership in the consistently pro- or anti-Obama group is an almost perfect predictor of actual voting behavior, while the undecided/vacillators group has more nuanced voting behavior. We find that treating the ALP as a panel improves predictive power: current and previous polling responses together provide more predictive power than do current responses alone.",
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note = "Funding sponsors: National Science Foundation (nr. SES-0911181), National Institute on Aging (nr. 5R01AG020717-05), RAND Corporation and Northwestern University. Fundig text: ADELINE DELAVANDE is Associate Economist at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA, and Assistant Professor of Economics at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. CHARLES F. MANSKI is Board of Trustees Professor in Economics, and Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA. This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging [5R01AG020717-05 to A. D.]; and in part by the National Science Foundation [SES-0911181 to C.M.]. We are grateful to the Editors and several reviewers for their comments.",
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Probabilistic polling and voting in the 2008 presidential election : Evidence from the American life panel. / Delavande, Adeline; Manski, Charles F.

In: Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 3, 01.03.2010, p. 433-459.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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N1 - Funding sponsors: National Science Foundation (nr. SES-0911181), National Institute on Aging (nr. 5R01AG020717-05), RAND Corporation and Northwestern University. Fundig text: ADELINE DELAVANDE is Associate Economist at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA, and Assistant Professor of Economics at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. CHARLES F. MANSKI is Board of Trustees Professor in Economics, and Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA. This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging [5R01AG020717-05 to A. D.]; and in part by the National Science Foundation [SES-0911181 to C.M.]. We are grateful to the Editors and several reviewers for their comments.

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