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And the Winner Will Be?
The American public has a pretty good track record in forecasting the winner of presidential elections. In Gallup polls inJune and October 2008, Americans predicted that Barack Obama would be elected. In two of three Gallup polls conductedin 2004, people thought George W. Bush would win. In four of five of Gallup’s polls in 2000, Americans predicted Bushwould win. In the final question asked in mid-September 2000, they predicted an Al Gore victory. In August 1996, a largemajority (69 percent) predicted Bill Clinton would defeat Bob Dole (24 percent). In two recent polls, majorities have saidObama will win.
Debating Debate Impact
In September 2008, before the presidential debates that year, Lydia Saad, one of Gallup’s chief analysts, wrote that therewere “few instances in which the debates may have had a substantive impact on election outcomes. The two exceptionsare 1960 and 2000, both very close elections in which even small changes could have determined who won. In two othercontests—1976 and 2004—public preferences moved quite a bit around the debates, but the debates did not appear toalter the likely outcome.”Gallup reported in October 2008 that the public believed Barack Obama had won all three debates. The editors notedthat polls conducted immediately after each debate or in the succeeding days since 1960 “have most often shown that theDemocratic candidate has been viewed as the winner over the Republican candidate.” That doesn’t mean the debate win-ner goes on to win the election. In 2004, the public believed John Kerry won all three debates.
—————Position of the election winner—————before first debateafter last debate(Gap between winning candidate andhis opponent in percentage points)
1960 (Kennedy)-141976 (Carter)1551980 (Reagan)-331984 (Reagan)17171988 (GHW Bush)891992 (Clinton)18121996 (Clinton)19242000 (GW Bush)-842004 (GW Bush)1132008 (Obama)310
Note: There were no debates in 1964, 1968, and 1972. The 1980 post-debate results are likely voters. The numbers for 2008 are based onGallup’s three-day rolling averages.Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of 2008.
Q: Regardless of whom you support, and trying to be asobjective as possible, who do you think . . . ?
Will win the election in November
Note: Sample is registered voters. In August, the responses were63 and 33 percent, respectively.Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corperation, September 2012.
Q: Just your best guess, who do you think . . . ?
Will win the presidential election
Note:In July, those responses were 58 and 34 percent, respec-tively. In January, when ABC and the
asked about Obama or“the Republican candidate,” 46 percent said Obama would win,and 49 percent the Republican.Source: ABC/
, August 2012.