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Election forecast: Who will win it?

Emory political scientists Alan Abramowitz and Drew Linzer have each developed election forecast models known for their precision. Both of their forecasts give a slight advantage to incumbent President Barack Obama, but they say in a race this close, it remains to be seen who will definitely come out on top Nov. 6.

The 2012 presidential election is still too close to call, says Abramowitz. His "time for change" election forecast model has correctly predicted the last five winners of the national popular vote with an average error of two percentage points. However, the "time for change" model does predict that modest economic growth heading into the election will lead to a narrow victory for President Obama.

Abramowitz, one of the foremost authorities on election forecasting and modeling, tweaked his model this year to reflect the growing partisan divide among voters and improve its accuracy. He says fewer voters are willing to cross party lines, which cuts President Obama's incumbent advantage nearly in half, to 2.5 percentage points instead of 5.2 percentage points.

Watch Abramowitz's election forecast video.

Linzer's model aggregates the state-level polls to get a forecast for the national outcome that, in the 2008 presidential race, predicted the state vote outcomes within an average of 1.4 percentage points. He's been tracking the progress of his model via his website, which features daily snapshots of state polls and his analysis of them.

"My model has been forecasting an Obama victory, based on a combination of favorable long-term factors (economic growth, popularity, incumbency status), and his persistent lead in the swing state polls.  However, the forecast is subject to a large amount of uncertainty…Since there's still a range of perfectly plausible (if unlikely) scenarios under which Romney could win, the answer is no, I wouldn't presume to call the election for President Obama at this point," Linzer says.

Read a full interview with Linzer about his forecasting model.

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