Skip to main content Accessibility help

Predictions of the Bush-Clinton-Perot Presidential Race from the Press

  • David P. Fan


This paper uses the ideodynamic model to assess the impact of persuasive messages on candidate preference in the 1992 presidential election. The methodology is based on approaches common to the natural sciences. These approaches suggested that opinion predictions are most robust when they explicitly omit such factors as opinion poli values, incumbency, and economic performance. Instead, the only persuasive messages used to predict opinion came from 3,394 stories from the Major Paper library of the NEXIS electronic data base scored by computer for news favorable and unfavorable to George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot. The scores were used in the equations of ideodynamics to compute media share time trends that predicted 55 public opinion polls with R 2 of 0.84 and 0.79 for Clinton and Perot, respectively. These high R 2 values together with the significance of the model's parameters suggested that the news media comprised the dominant influence on candidate preference. Campaign stories were also scored for coverage of different issues, and this coverage was related to good and bad news for the candidates.



Hide All
Abramowitz, A. I. 1988. An improved model for predicting presidential election outcomes. Political Science and Politics 21: 843–47.
Ansolebehere, S., Behr, R., and Iyengar, S. 1993. The media game: American politics in the television age. New York: Macmillan.
Campbell, J. E. 1993. Weather forecasters should be so accurate: A response to ‘Forewarned before forecast.’ Political Science and Politics 26: 165–66.
Campbell, J. E., and Mann, T. E. 1992. Forecasting the 1992 presidential election: A user's guide to the models. Brookings Review (Fall): 2227.
Cook, R. D., and Weisberg, S. 1990. Confidence curves in nonlinear regression. Journal of the American Statistical Association 85: 544–51.
Fair, R. C. 1988. The effect of economic events on votes for president: 1984 update. Political Behavior 10: 168–79.
Fan, D. P. 1985. Ideodynamics: The kinetics of the evolution of ideas. Journal of Mathematical Sociology 11: 124.
Fan, D. P. 1988. Predictions of public opinion from the mass media: Computer content analysis and mathematical modeling. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Fan, D. P., Brosius, H.-B., and Kepplinger, H. M. 1994. Predictions of the public agenda from television coverage. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 38: 163–77.
Fan, D. P., and Holway, W. B. 1994. Media coverage of cocaine and its impact on usage patterns. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 6: 139–62.
Fan, D. P., and McAvoy, G. 1989. Predictions of public opinion on the spread of the disease of AIDS: Introduction of new computer methodologies. Journal of Sex Research 26: 159–87.
Fan, D. P., and Tims, A. R. 1989. The impact of the news media on public opinion: American presidential election, 1987-1988. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 1: 151–63.
Forsythe, R., Nelson, F., Neumann, G. R., and Wright, J. 1992. Anatomy of an experimental political stock market. American Economic Review 82: 1142–61.
Freeman, J. R. 1983. Granger causality and the time series analysis of political relationships. American Journal of Political Science 27: 327–58.
Granger, C. W. J. 1980. Test for causality: A personal viewpoint. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 2: 329–52.
Greene, J. P. 1993. Forewarned before forecast: Presidential election forecasting models and the 1992 election. Political Science and Politics 26: 1721.
Guldberg, C. M., and Waage, P. 1964. Studier over affiniteten. in Forhandlinger i Vidensabsselskabet i Christiania. Reprinted The law of mass action: A centenary volume, 1864-1964, edited by Haralsen, H., Norske videnscaps-akademi i Oslo, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, pp. 3545.
Hamblin, R. L., Jacobsen, R. B., and Miller, J. L. L. 1973. A mathematical theory of social change. New York: Wiley.
Hibbs, D. A. 1979. The mass public and macroeconomic performance: The dynamics of public opinion toward unemployment and inflation. American Journal of Political Science 23: 705–31.
Hibbs, D. A. 1982. The dynamics of political support for American presidents among occupational and partisan groups. American Journal of Political Science 26: 312–23.
Jamieson, K. H. 1992. Dirty politics: Deception, distraction, and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kiewiet, D. Roderick. 1983. Macroeconomics and macropolitics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kinder, Donald R., and Roderick Kiewiet, D. 1979. Economic grievances and political behavior: The role of personal discontents and collective judgments in congressional voting. American Journal of Political Science 12: 495527.
Kinder, Donald R., and Roderick Kiewiet, D. 1981. Sociotropic politics: The American case. British Journal of Political Science 11: 129–62.
Klapper, J. 1960. The effects of mass communications. New York: Free Press.
Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., and Gaudet, H. 1994. The people's choice. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pierce.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., and Rice, T. W. 1992. Forecasting Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
MacKuen, Michael B., Erikson, Robert S., and Stimson, James A. 1989. Macropartisanship. American Political Science Review 83: 1127–42.
MacKuen, Michael B., Erikson, Robert S., and Stimson, James A. 1992. Peasants or Bankers? The American electorate and the U.S. Economy. American Political Science Review 86: 597611.
Nelder, T., and Mead, R. 1965. A simplex method for function minimization. Computer Journal 7: 308–13.
Neuman, W. R., Just, M. R., and Crigler, A. N. 1992. Common knowledge: News and the construction of political meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ostrom, Charles W., and Smith, Renée M. 1994. Error correction, attitude persistence, and executive rewards and punishments: A behavioral theory of presidential approval. Political Analysis 4: 127–83.
Page, B. I., and Shapiro, R. Y. 1992. The rational public: Fifty years of trends in American's policy preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pindyck, Robert S., and Rubinfeld, Daniel L. 1991. Econometric models and economic forecasts, third edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Throop, A. W. 1992. Consumer sentiment: Its cause and effects. Economic Review (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco) 1 (Winter): 3559.
Valente, T. W. 1993. Diffusion of innovations and policy decision-making. Journal of Communication 43: 3045.
MathJax is a JavaScript display engine for mathematics. For more information see


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed