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Lewis-Beck & Tien

The model by Michael Lewis-Beck and Charles Tien is a classic political economy model, which predicts the two-party popular vote from two variables that measure political popularity and economic growth.

2020 forecast

For the 2016 election, the model predicts a clear victory for Joe Biden with 56.7% of the major party vote (compared to 43.3% for Donald Trump).

Vote equation

The regression model’s vote equation, estimated on data back to 1948, reads as:

V = 37.5 + 0.26 popularity + 1.18 economic growth

Table 1: Overview of variables used in the political economy model
Variable Description 2020 value
popularity Gallup Presidential Approval measure in July of the election year
economic growth GNP growth in the first two quarters of the election year
V Incumbent share of the two-party presidential vote


Lewis-Beck, M. S. & Tien, C. (2016). The political economy model: 2016 US election forecasts. PS: Political Science & Politics, 49(4), 661-663.

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