CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
UI professor predicts few losses for Democrats in 1998 Congressional
(Editors note: Professor Michael Lewis-Beck is available to discuss
his election forecast, 319/351-3245.)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Democrats should expect to lose fewer seats in
the House of Representatives than is typical for a sitting president's
party in a mid-term election, according to an election forecast by Michael
Lewis-Beck, a University of Iowa political scientist.
Using a forecast model based on the economy, the president's popularity,
and the historical pattern of elections in the post-war era, Lewis-Beck
predicts that the Democrats will lose only six House seats in the upcoming
election. Historically, he said, the party of the sitting president loses
25 to 30 seats in a mid-term election.
"This is a really good forecast for the Democrats," Lewis-Beck
said. "If they only lose six seats it won't quite give the Democrats
a majority, but it will mean that, despite the Lewinsky affair and the
impeachment inquiry, on balance the public is standing by Clinton, and
Republican efforts to paint him into a corner have backfired."
Election forecasting is not an exact science, and Lewis-Beck said his
model has a margin of error of +/-10, meaning the Democrats could lose
up to 16 seats. "But even if this happens the worst case for
the Democrats it's still only about half the number the party would
historically expect to lose," he said.
Lewis-Beck's forecast model is based on economic indicators and poll
figures measuring the president's popularity. Since the economy is generally
doing well and President Clinton's overall job approval rating is still
high, Lewis-Beck said the Democrats can expect those good feelings to prevail
on election day. "The President's party historically does better to
the extent that the President is popular and the economy is doing well,"
This year, for the first time in a Congressional forecast, Lewis-Beck
also included in his model a measure of the public's economic expectations
in the coming months. The Index of Consumer Expectations measures people's
feelings about the direction of the economy in the coming months. Lewis-Beck
said adding that element to his model makes it an even better predictor
of actual outcomes.
Lewis-Beck has a strong record for accuracy in election forecasts. In
the 1996 Presidential election, he predicted the exact percentage of the
vote the President Clinton would win.