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

  • David P. Fan

Abstract

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.

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