Could President Obama's Current Approval Ratings Inform The 2076 Election?

The New York Times' The Upshot recently reported on a new model of presidential voting created by Andrew Gelman, a political scientist and statistician at Columbia University, and Yair Ghitza, chief scientist at Catalist, a Democratic data firm.

The model is based on the idea that political preferences are shaped by a lifetime of events and life experiences, but more particularly those happening between the ages of 14 and 24: according to the model, "events at age 18 are about three times as powerful as those at age 40."  Gelman and Ghitza used Gallup's presidential approval ratings as a proxy for those events and estimated how people's political preferences change at different stages of their lives.  The model focuses on White voters because of the data limitations of older survey designs.

"Knowing how formative events are at different ages, along with the president’s approval rating, allows Mr. Ghitza and Mr. Gelman to estimate a group’s presidential voting tendencies over time, including during childhood. These preferences are not necessarily how the group voted, because they do not take into account short-term shifts, like Mr. Obama’s wide popularity in 2008. Think of them, instead, as estimates of how a group would vote in an average presidential election."

"It is important not to think about a single election or of a single defining political event,” Mr. Ghitza and Mr. Gelman write. “Rather, generations appear to be formed through a prolonged period of presidential excellence."

Read more: resources:
Voter Turnout in the United States: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (
Identity Politics and the Latino vs. Hispanic Debate: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (
Voting Behavior: The 2012 Election (

Frederique Laubepin


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