Last month Martial Foucault and Richard Nadeau published a forecast of the 2012 French presidential election based on economic (unemployment rate) and political variables (polling popularity of incumbent, previous election results, etc.) available more than six months before the election actually took place. They predicted that the Socialist candidate would win with 51.9% of the vote, to 48.1% for UMP incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
The election was yesterday, and Socialist candidate François Hollande won with 51.6% of the vote to 48.4% for Sarkozy.
In other words, a political science forecasting model based purely on economic and polling data gathered before the campaign even started correctly predicted the final vote to within 0.3%.
Way to go political science!
For comparison’s sake, similar forecasting models are currently predicting a narrow re-election victory for President Obama this fall.