The Pollyvote team has completed its first survey of elections experts to forecast the 2016 presidential election. In the late December survey, conducted between December 26 and 31, eight academics from a variety of colleges and universities predicted that the Democrats will eke out a narrow victory over the Republicans. The mean forecast is that the Democrats will garner 51.7% of the major-party vote, compared to 48.3% for the Republicans.
The Pollyvote team will conduct similar surveys monthly until fall 2016, when the experts will be polled more frequently.
This is the fourth presidential election campaign in which an expert panel has been formed by the Pollyvote team to forecast the election outcome. The first surveys, those in 2004, did not begin as early as the current survey, but those for 2008 and 2012 did. In 2012, the late December survey revealed an average forecast of 50.6% for Obama, who eventually received 52% of the two-party vote; a forecast error of merely 1.4 percentage points. In 2008, the late December survey predicted McCain to gain 47.7%. Again, this long-term forecast was off by only 1.4 percentage points, as McCain eventually won 46.3% of the vote. Thus, even with this long lead time, the expert panelists were able to forecast the winner in both elections. As we see, the experts have considerable expertise in forecasting elections. Watch this space for the next report from the experts in about a month.
Correction note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the mean expert forecast was 51.9% for the Democrats and 48.7% for the Republicans.