Monday, March 15, 2010

Wishful Thinking

I've been wrestling with a wishful thinking manuscript, and of course -- as always seem to be the case -- the data are getting in the way of a good theory.  Wishful thinking is when preference leads to expectation.  In other words, if I'm for Candidate X, I'm probably also likely to predict Candidate X will win the election.  How often does it happen?  See below. This graphic I created from the ANES cumulative data file and goes only to 2004, but I'll tell ya now the wishful thinking in 2008 was just as high. The predictive accuracy is just that, what percentage accurately predicted the election. As can be seen, in close elections the accuracy tends to be low, in runaway elections, it tends to be higher.

I may write up a version for Like the Dew or one of my other favorite places. The paper I'm working on takes a simple idea -- that those who expect to win, but don't, are likely to have lower scores in government trust or satisfaction with democracy. And, from the media angle, exposure to the news should moderate this effect.

But do the data show that? Not as well as I'd like, so I may push this idea aside.

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