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Forecasting models that rely on the theory of retrospective voting views an election as a referendum on the incumbent government’s performance. Thus, retrospective voting theory assumes that voters reward the incumbent party for good performance and punish it otherwise.

Some models measure performance solely by focusing on the state of the economy, for example, by using one or more macroeconomic variables—such as GDP, unemployment, or spending. We refer to such models, which completely ignore public opinion variables, as fundamentals-only models.

Other models also poll-based variables such as presidential job approval as proxies for voters’ satisfaction with the government’s handling of both economic and non-economic issues. We refer to these models as fundamentals-plus models.

The retrospective models component of the PollyVote is calculated as the simple average of fundamentals-only and fundamentals-plus models.


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