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Strategies of Secession and Counter-Secession

Under-Forecasting the Republican Vote? A Tale of Campaign Spending and Partisan Homecoming Across Two Eras

Political Parties
Electoral Behaviour
Survey Research
Voting Behaviour
Robert Luskin
Sciences Po Paris
Robert Luskin
Sciences Po Paris

When do pre-election media polls under- or over-estimate the Republican vote? This paper examines the signed forecast errors in pre-election media polls, defined as the signed difference between the poll and the election returns, based on 2,130 state-level polls for U.S. Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential elections from 1990 through 2016. We consider the longstanding Republican perception—and grumble—that the polls tend to under-forecast the Republican vote, then model and estimate the influences on the signed forecast errors made by individual polls. Differential campaign spending turns out to be particularly important—in a theoretically satisfying but unexpected way. Both this and the other estimated effects also look somewhat paler in the most recent elections, reflecting important changes in electoral politics.
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