Do Early Birds Get the Worm? Improving Timeliness of Presidential Nomination Forecasts

Authors


  • AUTHORS’ NOTE: We are listed alphabetically and wish to acknowledge the financial support of the University Committee on Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Center for the Study for Representation at the University of Arkansas. We also wish to thank the staff of the Public Records Division of the Federal Election Commission and those individuals who reviewed earlier drafts of this research. Any errors and omissions are our sole responsibility.

Randall E. Adkins is associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His work is published in American Politics Quarterly, American Politics Research, Journal of Political Marketing, Political Research Quarterly, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

Andrew J. Dowdle is assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. His work is published in American Politics Quarterly, American Politics Research, Journal of Political Marketing, Journal of Military and Political Sociology, and Political Research Quarterly.

Abstract

This research explores whether data on polling, campaign expenditures, and cash reserves of campaigns collected in the year prior to the presidential election can produce accurate predictions of party nominees. Findings suggest that efforts to forecast nominations may begin as early as the first quarter of the year before the election for Republicans, where the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy is negligible. In Democratic races where a sitting vice president does not run for president, exhibition season predictions are murky and the cost of trading timeliness for accuracy is higher.

Ancillary