When Economic Shifts and Elections Intersect: An Interview With Economist Ray Fair


Paul Solman: Every presidential election year for awhile now, we’ve paid a visit to Yale professor Ray Fair. His computer model for predicting the race, based largely on economics, has become something of a national phenomenon since we first started talking to him. His book, Predicting Presidential Elections, is the best introduction I know to the uses of regression analysis, on which his model relies.

Fair is a fascinating guy and we visited him again this year to talk about his model and a topic of great concern to us as recently as a month ago: inflation.

We’ve posted some of the interview right here, for your delectation. There’s also Professor Fair’s Web page for the model. You can very easily adjust the model inputs yourself by clicking on the line of blue type that reads: “Compute your own predictions for 2008 using the 2004 update.”

The values already there are Professor Fair’s default numbers for economic growth and inflation. But if you think the former is really lower than reported by the government, or the latter (inflation) has been higher, you can tinker accordingly. The good professor’s overall Web page is also worth a gander (as in look, not goose).