This election year, the Institute of Politics and the Harvard Political Review at Harvard College co-sponsored a survey of Harvard undergraduates to collect 2012 Election predictions. Overall, 196 students participated in the survey, sharing their predictions on outcomes in the presidential, senatorial, and house races. According to a majority of those who participated in the survey, President Barack Obama will be elected to a second term in office, the Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, and the House of Representatives will remain under strong Republican control.


Survey participants were asked to make predictions in three categories: the Electoral College, the popular vote, and congressional races. In the first category, participants were asked to predict the outcome of 10 swing states and predict the number of electoral votes each candidate would receive. In the second category, participants were asked to predict the percentage of and number of popular votes each candidate would receive. In the third category, participants were asked to predict the outcome of 11 swing Senate races across the country as well as the change of seats in the House of Representatives.

The survey was administered via email and was limited to Harvard undergraduates only. There were 196 self-selected undergraduate participants in the survey over a five-day period, from October 29 to November 2. The survey was publicized as a contest, with one award being given in each category.


The Electoral College

Who will win the following swing states?

(% of respondents)

Swing States Barack Obama Mitt Romney
Colorado 64% 36%
Florida 16% 84%
Iowa 78% 22%
Nevada 83% 17%
New Hampshire 84% 16%
North Carolina 13% 87%
Ohio 84% 16%
Pennsylvania 96% 4%
Wisconsin 82% 18%
Virginia 42% 58%


Based on the survey predictions, participants believe that the electoral map will look like the following on Election Day:

Electoral map is courtesy of CNN


 The Popular Vote

 Popular Vote Projection:        Obama-64,432,061       Romney-61,972,518

Percentage of the popular vote Projected for each candidate:

Congressional Races: 

 Who will win the following swing Senate races?

(% of respondents)

Swing Senate Races        Democratic Candidate         Republican Candidate
Arizona (Carmona v. Flake)                       13%                     87%
Connecticut (Murphy v. McMahon)                       91%                      9%
Indiana (Donnelly v. Mourdock)                       48%                     52%
Massachusetts (Warren v.  Brown)                       90%                     10%
Missouri (McCaskill v. Akin)                       78%                     22%
Montana (Tester v. Rehberg)                       23%                     77%
Nevada (Berkley v. Heller)                       25%                     75%
Ohio (Brown v. Mandel)                       86%                     14%
North Dakota (Heitkamp v. Berg)                       20%                     80%
Virginia (Kaine v. Allen)                       74%                     26%
Wisconisn (Baldwin v. Thompson)                       70%                     30%


Average projected change in the House of Representatives: Democrats gain 4 seats



The sample is likely to have a bias towards politically active students, which might occur for two reasons. First there is likely a self-selection bias, since politically active students are more likely to have opened and participated in the survey. Second, there is likely a bias in administration, since the survey tended to be sent out over email lists with large numbers of politically active students, as opposed to lists that would reach populations with a more diverse range of political interests.



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