Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Presidential Prediction Rankings

This chart ranks how well 25 major forecasters predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Obama won the election 332-206, with a 3.9% popular vote margin.

#Predictor Outcome Obama / Romney picksPop=3.9% StateFail Grade
1 Markos Moulitsas and Daily Kos Elections 332-206 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL3.5% 0 A+
2 Nate Silver, New York Times 332-206 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 2.5% 0 A
3 Simon Jackman, Huffington Post 332-206NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL1.7%0A
4~ Josh Putnam, Davidson College 332-206 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 0 A
4~ Drew Linzer, Emory University 332-206 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 0 A
6 Sam Wang, Princeton University 303-235 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 2.34% 0.9 A-
7 Jamelle Bouie, American Prospect 303-235NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 2.2% 0.9 A-
8~TPM Polltracker 303-235NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 0.7% 0.9 A-
8~RealClearPolitics 303-235NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 0.7% 0.9 A-
10 Intrade Prediction Market 303-235 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL
0.9 A-
11~ Ezra Klein, Washington Post 290-248 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 3.9 B
11~ Larry Sabato, University of Virginia 290-248 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 3.9 B
13 Cokie Roberts, ABS NEWS 294-234 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 5.6 B
14 Dean Chambers, Unskewed Polls 275-263 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL1.79% 10.5 C+
15 Erik Erickson, Redstate 285-253 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 17.2 C
16 SE Cupp, MSNBC 270-268 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 22.0C-
17 Karl Rove, Bush advisor (popular) 285-253 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL3% 23.9 D+
18Ben Shapiro, National Review 311-227 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL
28.0 D
19 Ben Domenech, The Transom 278-260 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FLR 26.7+ME2 D
20 Christian Schneider, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 291-247 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL
30.5 D-
21 James Pethokoukis, AEI 301-227 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL2% 30.5 D-
22 Michael Barone, Washington Examiner 315-223NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 33.8 F
23 George Will, Washington Post 321-217NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 35.7 F
24Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine 321-217NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 40.5 F
25 Dick Morris, Fox News 325-213 NV PA MN WI IA NH OH CO VA FL 41.5 F

Here are the ranking methodology and criteria for inclusion. I'm only putting professional pundits and big things like Intrade on the chart. But I should additionally mention that my co-blogger Nicholas Beaudrot got every state right.

The rankings are based on how well people predicted individual states, with the penalty for missing a state being the percentage margin of victory. This penalizes people less for getting close states wrong, and more for losing big. The values of the various states, via Huffington Post, are MN=7.7 WI=6.7 NV=6.6 NH=5.8 IA=5.6 PA=5.2 CO=4.7 VA=3.0 OH=1.9 FL=0.9.

I use accuracy of popular vote prediction to break ties. I'm working with a popular vote margin of 3.9%. Since many people didn't try to predict the popular vote, this is somewhat artificial. So I've added the letter-grade component on the right, which doesn't take popular vote into account, except in the case of the Daily Kos folks who get an A+ for getting the popular vote closest to right.

For now, I'll outsource commentary on the success of Nate and the other poll aggregators to xkcd:


  1. In the National Review Online prediction symposium, it looks to me as though two pundits (other than SE Cupp, who you've already got here) specify a complete electoral map: Christian Schneider and Ben Shapiro.

    1. Adding to this, several others are willing to commit to an electoral vote total but not a map, which I gather is less acceptable for your purposes.

    2. Thanks, Chris! And yeah, I do need a full map. I guess I could take people's EV totals and back-calculate a map from them, but I have a party to go to :)

  2. Silver is only predicting 313 for Obama.

    1. I'm going on the state-by-state forecasts. His 313 figure is his 'average' guess, because Florida is chunky. Going on his map at this moment gives 332.

  3. There are a couple other statistical analyses of election prediction accuracy up at the Center for Applied Rationality and Margin of Error. They include predictions from DeSart & Holbrook, Margin of Error, and InTrade, which aren't in your table.

    1. Cool! I put Intrade on. (I'm trying to stick to very prominent sites / people.)

  4. There were those University of Colorado political scientists who got all the press for using their model to predict the Romney win...

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2012

    Obama is now at 3.1% ahead of Romney, which means that Nate Silver came in second place to Markos.

  6. I think it is worth putting Professor Tannenbaum's site in this table at