CNU Forecaster Says Negative Partisanship Will Decide 2020 Election - Christopher Newport University


CNU Forecaster Says Negative Partisanship Will Decide 2020 Election

Political scientist Dr. Rachel Bitecofer develops unique forecasting model.

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Dr. Rachel Bitecofer
Dr. Rachel Bitecofer

Fresh off predicting the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections months ahead of other forecasters, political scientist Rachel Bitecofer says the same factors driving Democrats’ 2018 success will be in play for 2020 so long as Donald Trump is president.

Bitecofer, assistant director of CNU’s Wason Center for Public Policy, predicted the 2018 Democratic "blue wave" months in advance using the Negative Partisanship Model. The unique forecasting methodology she developed at the Wason Center also allowed her to foresee the "blue wave" in Virginia's 2017 election, a phenomenon missed by other analysts.

"What we know about voter behavior largely pre-dates the polarized era," she says. "But if the rest of American politics is affected by the high levels of polarization currently gripping our system, it makes sense that voters are also impacted."

Bitecofer argues the sharp swings in recent midterm elections are from the entrance and exit of partisan voters who are activated or deactivated by negative partisanship: "Out-of-power partisans, in this case Democrats, vote because fear motivates, especially fear that comes from seeing the opposition party enact the wrong policies and stack federal courts with the wrong judges.

"Negative partisanship can already tell us two things about the 2020 presidential election. First, that the Democratic Party field will be large, possibly surpassing the unprecedented 2016 Republican primary field. Second, Democrats will be buoyed by the same enthusiasm advantage that propelled them in 2018."

Bitecofer’s research and the Negative Partisanship Model have been featured in many media outlets including The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, Huffington Post and NPR and she is a regular contributor on CBC Radio.

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