President Elect:1988 Edition is an updated version of the original President Elect
adding the campaign data for the upcoming (at the time) 1988 election. The game is a comprehensive computer simulation of a presidential campaign from Labor Day to election night. The game can be played by 3 players each assuming the role of campaign manager/candidate. The game proceeds through 9 weekly turns where the player decides how and where to concentrate their campaign efforts. Weekly polls are provided to give the players an idea on how they are doing. On election night the returns come in on a minute to minute basis until a winner is determined. The election night may be simulated in real time (2-6 hours) or the votes may be counted in 15 seconds. President Elect has seven historical scenarios (from 1960 to 1988) or a virtually unlimited number of hypothetical or ahistorical scenarios.
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Designer Nelson Hernandez Sr.
's Author's Notes from the manual contain interesting reflections and predictions:
I designed this game with knowledgeable followers of politics in mind. The constant struggle of any game designer, or historian, is to include critical elements and exclude unnecessary detail... in short, to make the game both fun and playable and yet keep its integrity as a representation of history - or reality.
Judging by the reviews I've read since the original version of this game was issued in 1981, it seems this tension between fun and realism has been resolved with some success.
The initial version did frustrate a lot of people, though, on the grounds that it predicted a smashing Reagan landslide in 1984, almost any way you stacked the deck against him. Some said this hurt playability (it did). Others thought an extreme landslide such as the game seemed to be predicting was preposterous. But I judged in 1981 and thereafter that this was very likely the virtually inevitable outcome, and to change the program to make it a better (closer) game was a violation of the sensibilities of fellow political pundits. So I resisted the temptation, and the 1984 election went very much as the game said it would.
As I write, the 1988 election is yet a year and a half away. The game as a model of reality has not been significantly altered, only all the variables fitting into the model have changed. Playtesting shows the Republican party to have an edge in most likely match-ups. There are many reasons for this, analysis of which I do not have space to elaborate here. One thing seems sure: a smashing landslide such as the last two elections is not likely for either party. But still, assuming (1) economic and foreign variables don't materially change between now and then, (2) the 1988 Republican Convention doesn't turn into a fratricidal bloodletting, and (3) the two candidates are relatively equal in personal charm and rhetorical skill, the game tells us the 1988 election is the Republicans' to win... by probably 5-7 percentage points. I'm sure that won't please everyone (otherwise what is the point of this game?).
I hope that you enjoy playing PRESIDENT ELECT as much as I enjoyed creating it. Your comments are welcomed.
Republican candidate George Bush of Texas defeated Democrat Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts by 7.8 percentage points in 1988 to become the 41th president of the United States.