Hotel Online  Special Report

 Uncanny! Hotel Occupancies “Key Indicator”
of Presidential Election Outcome


Hospitality Research Group uses historical data to predict winner

ATLANTA, Georgia, October 28, 2004 — Hotel occupancy trends have accurately predicted the winner of the past three Presidential elections, according to The Hospitality Research Group of PKF Consulting (HRG).  

“Many find our methods uncanny, but are forced to bow in the face of the facts,” says HRG’s Executive Managing Director Mark Woodworth, tongue slightly in cheek.  

Using hotel occupancy as its talisman, HRG accurately predicted the victories of Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.  In 2000, it used the same method to predict an Al Gore victory.  “Given the closeness of that election, we were well within the statistical error factor, so we count that as a correct prediction.  As Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman pointed out in discussing his theory of positive economics, the assumptions upon which the predictive model are based are not necessarily that critical, but rather, it is the accuracy of the outcomes that is most important.” 

Woodworth explained that since 1929, national hotel occupancies have increased on 12 occasions during Presidential election years.  The Democratic candidate won 75 percent of these elections.  Since HRG is forecasting an occupancy increase in 2004 over 2003, it is also predicting a Kerry win (maybe).

“However, to quote Mark Twain, ‘there are lies, damned lies and statistics’,” Woodworth added.  “This election year, we see some additional variables.

“Since the current administration has had to deal with the events of 9/11, SARS, wars, recession, etc., we analyzed the data in two additional ways,” he continued.

  1. Since 1929, hotel occupancies have declined eight times during the first year of a Presidential administration.  In five of those eight times, the incumbent party was kept in office for the following term.  Since hotel occupancies declined in Bush’s first term, this suggests he has a 62.5 percent chance of re-election.
  1. Nine times since 1929, hotel occupancies have increased during the first year of the administration.  Six out of these nine times, the party that had been in charge was the very same party that had occupied the White House for the previous four years.  Since HRG is forecasting hotel occupancies to increase again in 2005, this also suggests that Bush will be re-elected.
“During our studies, we also learned that our method works well in predicting the popular vote; however, in the future, we will focus our research on using these data to estimate the Electoral College outcome.  For 2004, the good news is that you get to draw your own conclusions.”

PKF Consulting is a national consulting and real estate firm specializing in the hospitality industry.  PKF Consulting affiliates are the Hospitality Research Group and the PKF Capital Markets Group. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC.

R. Mark Woodworth
Executive Managing Director
The Hospitality Research Group of PKF Consulting  
3340 Peachtree Road, Suite 580    
Atlanta, GA 30326    
(404) 842-1150 x222
Also See: PKF Consulting/HRG Survey Forecasts Banner Year for Hotel Transactions; Investors Favoring the Full-service Segment / May 2004
First Uptick for Hotel Industry in Three Years; Full-Service Hotels Lead the Way In U.S. Hotel Profits for 2004 / Hospitality Research Group / March 2004
Demand in the Full-service Hotel Sector is Expected to Increase by 6.3% in 2004; Best and Worst Hotel Markets in Terms of RevPAR Growth / PKF Consulting / January 2004

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