Ahead of US presidential elections – The false consensus to win

A new study ‘Candidate preferences and expectations of election outcomes’
by ISER’s Professor of Economics, Adeline Delavande, and Charles Frederick Manski, Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, finds voters believe their favourite candidate is the most likely winner in elections.

Despite widespread knowledge of others’ preferences provided by polls, people’s predictions of election outcomes tend to reflect their own preferences, the study suggests.

The research attempted to determine whether a psychological phenomenon called false consensus, which suggests that people tend to project their preferences onto groups, plays a role in people’s expectations of election outcomes.

The authors analysed responses to the American Life Panel, an online survey of more than 1,000 Americans, collected around the 2008 U.S. presidential election and 2010 senatorial and gubernatorial state elections.

Regardless of gender and level of schooling, people tended to believe that their preferred candidate was likely to win the election no matter what the polls predicted; the effect was equally likely among white and black respondents. Further, when individuals changed their candidate preferences, their expectations of election outcomes changed similarly.

Photo credit: european_parliament


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