Polls, Votes, and All That…
As the U.S. presidential election approaches in early November, speculation runs high on whether President George W. Bush will win or lose to John Kerry. In addition to that big question, though, the election presents several other issues, which we examine in this special report. First, Knowledge at Wharton looks at the credibility and methodology of polls – a subject that could have implications for politics, but also for business forecasting, according to Wharton faculty. Next, we examine the controversy surrounding Proposition 71, a proposal on California’s ballot to create a $3 billion state fund to assist embryonic and other stem cell research. Finally, Knowledge at Wharton looks at the impact of the Hispanic vote on the presidential race.
This election year’s hard-fought presidential race has brought increasing focus on the credibility and methodology of polls – a focus that could have implications for politics, but also for business forecasting, according to Wharton faculty. With growing uncertainty about the value of polls, people are looking more closely at new ways to predict election outcomes – including the use of aggregate poll results, expert opinion surveys and betting markets. “My guess is that polls are the least accurate way of gauging an election,” says Wharton marketing professor J. Scott Armstrong.
Californians, who not long ago recalled a governor they did not like and replaced him with one they did, now appear set to give the same treatment to President Bush’s controversial decision to restrict federal funding to embryonic stem cell research. A well-funded group of advocates has placed a proposal called Proposition 71 on California’s Nov. 2 ballot to create a $3 billion fund to assist embryonic and other stem cell research. Opponents argue that such research tampers with the very stuff of life. Experts at Wharton and elsewhere point out, however, that the proposal – which seems likely to win – could cement California’s advantage in biotech research.
The upcoming U.S. presidential election may well be one of the most hotly contested in history and the Hispanic vote could play a decisive role in deciding its outcome. Aware of that fact, President George Bush, challenger John Kerry, and their respective campaign directors have spared no expense trying to reach the Hispanic community through television ads, videos, and even a few Spanish phrases at the beginning of their speeches.