Presidential election prediction

electionIn his column in the Elmira Star-Gazette on January 28, Dana Millbank suggests a rule for predicting the results of presidential elections. He writes: “The party of the incumbent president will win an election if the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index is above 100.” Let’s see if this is right.

President Date Consumer Confidence Milbank rule valid
G.H.W. Bush November 1988 112 yes
Bill Clinton November 1992 65 yes
Bill Clinton November 1996 109 yes
George W. Bush November 2000 132 no
George W. Bush November 2004 92 no
Barack Obama November 2008 44 yes
Barack Obama November 2012 71 no

Milbank’s rule held for George H. W. Bush,  Clinton, and Obama’s first term, but not for George W. Bush or Obama’s second term. Four times right in seven isn’t convincing–far from a sure thing. If consumer confidence is above 100 in 2016 as Milbank predicts it will be, President Obama should be succeeded by a Democrat. We’ll see.

© William Hungerford – January 2015


About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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2 Responses to Presidential election prediction

  1. pystew says:

    The consumer confidence rating only looks at one side of the campaign. How much confidence the voters have in the opponent has to weigh in there somewhere. Another way of putting it is: If consumer confidence is below 100 in 2016 as Milbank predicts, President Obama should be succeeded by a Republican. I feel it is more important which clown pops out of the GOP car of candidates.


  2. whungerford says:

    Doubtless Milbank’s rule is simplistic. Your point might explain 2012–with consumer confidence low, Romney would have been predicted to win.


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