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Release: May 9, 2000

UI political scientist says Democrats will win White House in 'near landslide'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Contrary to nearly every current political opinion poll, University of Iowa Political Science Professor Michael Lewis-Beck says Al Gore, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, will win the November election with 56.2 percent of the popular vote. "It's not even going to be close," he said.

Lewis-Beck's election forecast is based on the same political economic model he used in 1996, when he correctly forecast the exact percentage of the vote President Clinton would win. The model combines economic conditions, the popularity of the current president, and a public opinion index of which party will bring about greater peace and prosperity in the future.

"The public on balance thinks the Democrats will give them a better future," he said. "We would have to see huge shifts in the economy and in the popularity of the president for the forecast to be affected."

To change the forecast outcome, President Clinton's popularity rating, which currently hovers around 60 percent, would have to drop by at least 20 percentage points, and the economy would have to come to a screeching halt, Lewis-Beck said. There is no indication that either will happen before November, making him confident enough to release his forecast two months earlier than usual.

Lewis-Beck's forecast is different from political opinion polling in that it is finalized months in advance of the election. Also, it stands apart from other forecasts because it is the only one that takes into account the "peace and prosperity" outlook, he said.

"The model gets very close to the actual results. In 1996, it was dead right," he said. This year's model has a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percent.

A less scientific, yet historically accurate model supports the prediction of a Democratic win, Lewis-Beck said, making him even more confident that he is right and the polls are wrong. In every post-World War II presidential election, the incumbent's party has won if the unemployment rate is lower in June than it is in January of the election year. That is almost certain to be the case this year, with unemployment at its lowest levels ever and still falling, he said.

Lewis-Beck is available to speak with reporters about his forecast. To arrange an interview contact Mary Geraghty, University News Services, at (319) 384-0011 or