Playing the synthesizer with Canadian data : adding polls to a structural forecasting model
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofInternational journal of forecasting ; vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 289-301.
Election forecasting has become a fixture of election campaigns in a number of democracies. Structural modeling, the major approach to forecasting election results, relies on ‘fundamental’ economic and political variables to predict the incumbent’s vote share usually a few months in advance. Some political scientists contend that adding vote intention polls to these models—i.e., synthesizing ‘fundamental’ variables and polling information—can lead to important accuracy gains. In this paper, we look at the efficiency of different model specifications in predicting the Canadian federal elections from 1953 to 2015. We find that vote intention polls only allow modest accuracy gains late in the campaign. With this backdrop in mind, we then use different model specifications to make ex ante forecasts of the 2019 federal election. Our findings have a number of important implications for the forecasting discipline in Canada as they address the benefits of combining polls and ‘fundamental’ variables to predict election results; the efficiency of varying lag structures; and the issue of translating votes into seats.
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