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Fiscal model

The fiscal model of American presidential elections, developed collaboratively by Alfred Cuzán, Richard Heggen, and Mike Bundrick, borrows four of the six variables from Ray Fair’s model and is represented as follows:

V = A + b1(GROWTH) + b2(ALLNEWS) + b3(DURATION) + b4(PARTY) + b5(FISCAL or FPRIME) + e

2016 forecast

Alfred Cuzán presented the 2016 forecast of the fiscal model at the APSA meeting in Philadelphia. The model predicts Clinton to gain 48.2% of the two-party vote, compared to 51.8% for Trump.

Overview of variables used in the fiscal model
Variable Description Declaration in Fair model
GROWTH Growth rate of real per capita GDP in the first three quarters of the [presidential] election year (annual rate) G
ALLNEWS Number of quarters in the first 15 quarters of the administration in which the growth rate of real per capita GDP is greater than 3.2 Z (except that Fair zeroes out this variable in 1920, 1944, and 1948, whereas in the fiscal model the actual values are entered)
DURATION 0 if the incumbent party has been in the White House for one term, 1 if two terms, 1.25 if three, 1.5 if four, and so on DUR
PARTY 1 if the incumbent is a Democrat, -1 if a Republican I
FISCAL or FPRIME Measures the change in federal outlays/GDP (Cuzán and Heggen 1984; Cuzán, Heggen and Bundrick 2009). Coded as 1 if expansionary or expansive and -1 if cutback or contractionary.
V incumbent share of the two-party presidential vote  Vp (but Fair uses the Democratic share of the two-party presidential vote
A constant (intercept)
b1-b5 coefficients
e error term

Past performance

The following chart shows the fiscal model’s forecasts and the actual election results for each election since 2000. On average across the four elections, the fiscal model missed the final results by 2.8 percentage points.


  • Cuzán, A. G., & Heggen, R. J. (1984). A fiscal model of presidential elections in the United States: 1880-1980. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 98-108.
  • Cuzán, A. G., Bundrick, C. M., & Heggen, R. J. (2009). Fiscal policy in American presidential elections: A simulation. Simulation, 85(1), 5-15.
  • Cuzán, A. G. (2016). Fiscal model forecast for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. APSA Annual Meeting paper.
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