CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
UI professor is toast of France for political prediction
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa professor of political science
is finding he has a new role as one of the best-known political analysts
in France after correctly predicting -- in the face of overriding skepticism
-- that the conservative coalition government would lose the recent election.
Michael Lewis-Beck, an expert on forecasting elections, and his colleague,
Christine Aymar, were alone in predicting that the Socialist Party would
win the Parliamentary elections.
"Now, French political observers think we're wizards," Lewis-Beck
says. "Before the election, they thought we were nuts. The truth lies
somewhere in between."
In an article entitled, "Iowa gives the win to the opposition"
(English translation), published May 23 -- two days before the first round
of voting in the two-round system -- Lewis-Beck and Aymar predicted defeat
for the conservative coalition led by President Jacques Chirac. The article
appeared in the French newspaper, Liberation.
Basing their prediction on economic data indicating a stagnant French
economy and polls showing growing unpopularity for Chirac, the Iowans stood
out sharply against an array of political polls and traditional political
wisdom that predicted an overwhelming victory for Chirac.
The lone prediction became reality June 1 when the opposition Socialist
Party won a majority of parliamentary seats and put together a coalition
The recent prediction is the latest in a series of correct calls by
Lewis-Beck, considered one of the world's leading experts on using statistical
models that rely on economic, political and social data to forecast electoral
Since 1985 he has correctly predicted the winner of the French elections.
His predictions of United States presidential elections routinely come
within a few percentage points of matching the actual outcomes.
Since the election, Lewis-Beck has fielded calls from a wide variety
of French media, curious about his electoral insights. Some political observers
have asked if the system of polling should be replaced with Lewis-Beck's
"We've gotten a lot of notoriety," Lewis-Beck says .
Lewis-Beck is the author of two books, "Forecasting Elections"
and "Economics and Elections: The Major Western Democracies,"
which won the Quincy Wright Award of the International Studies Association.