Skip to content

Journal Article

Candidate preferences and expectations of election outcomes


Publication date

Mar 2012


Analysis of data from the American Life Panel shows that in the presidential election of 2008 and in multiple statewide elections in 2010, citizens exhibited large differences in their expectations of election outcomes. Expectations were strongly positively associated with candidate preferences, persons tending to believe that their preferred candidate is more likely to win the election. Committed supporters of opposing candidates regularly differed by 20–30% in their assessments of the likelihood that each candidate would win. These findings contribute evidence on the false consensus effect, the empirical regularity that own preferences tend to be positively associated with perceptions of social preferences. We used unique measures of preferences and perceptions that enabled respondents to express uncertainty flexibly. We studied a setting that would a priori seem inhospitable to false consensus—one where persons have little private information on social preferences but substantial common knowledge provided by media reports of election polls.

Published in

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Volume and page numbers

109 , 3711 -3715






Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*

Related publications

  1. Voters overrate favorite candidates

    Adeline Delavande and Charles F. Manski

  2. People overrate their favourite political candidates

    Adeline Delavande and Charles F. Manski

  3. Voters overrate favorite candidates

    Adeline Delavande and Charles F. Manski


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest