Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

The other UK losers: pollsters, Liberal Democrats, and 50% of Scots voters

May 9th, 2015, 9:34am by Sam Wang

Reanalyzed data from Lord Ashcroft's poll. Click to see original data

(reanalyzed data from Lord Ashcroft’s post-election poll)

Contrary to all pre-election polls, the Conservatives won an outright majority, with 329 out of 650 seats. The final popular vote was 37% for Conservatives, 31% for Labour, where a near-tie was predicted. But the Labour Party was not the only loser on Thursday. There were three others: [Read more →]

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What to watch in tomorrow’s UK election

May 7th, 2015, 12:22am by Sam Wang

Michael Mosettig explains it well. I cannot improve on what he says. Go read that. Then follow live returns here and projections here.

Current projections by indicate considerable losses by the two ruling parties, the Conservatives (281 seats) and the Liberal Democrats (27 seats). With a current forecast total of 308 seats, these two parties together seem likely to end up below the 323* seats necessary to get a majority in Parliament by themselves. But the uncertainties are rather considerable.

The projections have high uncertainty for two big reasons:

  • The U.K. election is determined by 630 individual races, one per constituency (what we would call a district). That’s 1.5 times the size of the U.S. House, and the U.K.’s population is only one-fifth that of the U.S. In the U.S., constituency/district-level polling is a more accurate source. However, in the U.K. it is it’s sparse (go see Lord Ashcroft’s compendium of polls).
  • The two-party system has fragmented, and sometimes two parties are near-tied in support. Since the seat goes to whoever gets the most votes in a constituency (“first past the post”), this leads to uncertainty. Multiparty races do not lend themselves as well to opinion polling as the U.S. two-party system.

The other total to watch is Labour + Scottish National Party (currently projected at 266 + 51 = 317). The remaining 20 or so seats would be split among the U.K. Independence Party, DUP, Plaid Cymru, and various others. These minor parties may end up being important after the election, if the likely Conservative+ and Labour+ coalitions can’t get to 323.

If all of the above is true, Labour seems to have a slight edge in forming a ruling coalition. However, the Conservatives could well find a way to remain on top, especially if they end up with the most seats as an individual party – at which point they may assert bragging rights to form a government.

*One minor party, Sinn Fein, may end up with about 5 M.P.’s, but their policy is one of abstention. Thus only 323 out of 630 votes appear to be necessary to form a government.

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A look back at poll aggregation, 2004-2014

May 6th, 2015, 1:11pm by Sam Wang

My article on Presidential poll aggregation is now published, in the International Journal of Forecasting. You can read it here. It’s part of a special issue on Presidential forecasting; when I have the other articles I will link those as well. Read about the origins of a rather odd hobby!

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Mark Halperin tries out a quantitative approach

April 19th, 2015, 1:30am by Sam Wang

So, Mark Halperin went to New Hampshire to watch the GOP presidential field. And then he evaluated them by handing out grades, which I guess is meant to be rigorous. I think these “grades” reveal at least as much about modern political journalism as they do about what happened in the Granite State. [Read more →]

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The Real Problem With That Chart

April 13th, 2015, 11:03pm by Sam Wang

In today’s dustup between FiveThirtyEight and Vox, the press is missing the point. This is often the case, since most reporters understand mud-throwing better than they understand data.

I am not interested in squabbles over whether it is kosher to show someone else’s graphic. That ship sailed ten years ago when blogging got big. See Ezra Klein today; it’s what aggregators and commentators do. The real story is that the original interpretation is quite possibly wrong. Go read what Matt Yglesias actually wrote!

The bottom line, in two sentences: 1) Hillary Clinton has Presidential-level name recognition, which nearly the entire GOP field would kill for. 2) Jeb Bush is starting off as damaged goods, but most other Republicans are not.

Follow me down to understand why. [

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Tuesday’s real winners: Kulanu and the Joint Arab List

March 18th, 2015, 2:09am by Sam Wang

Kahlon's support is critical for Likud's coalition. Credit: Tsahir Abayov, AP

Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, kingmaker

The votes are counted. Likud surged in the home stretch, making them the largest party in the new Knesset. The fifth-largest party, Kulanu, is likely to play an outsized role in determining who the next Prime Minister will be. This means that Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to office is not quite a done deal.

First, the results of Tuesday’s election: [

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Israel exit polls – and how to read them

March 17th, 2015, 3:19pm by Sam Wang

This is useful: a Times of Israel guide to reading exit polls, and how President Rivlin might weigh today’s results. And…official tallies in Hebrew and English.

What are you reading?

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After Election Day: Degrees of treif

March 17th, 2015, 10:07am by Sam Wang

If pre-election polls hold up – and there is some question now, since Israeli law prohibited publication of polls over the weekend – Labor/Hatnuah (also known as the Zionist Camp) may well get the first chance to form a ruling coalition of a majority of the newly-elected 120 Knesset members. On the face of it, it would not seem that Likud-plus (Likud plus natural allies on the right) can get to 61 seats easily. However, Labor’s difficulties are quite substantial, a problem which has become quite apparent upon further analysis. For this reason, Netanyahu’s chances of retaining at least some power are probably better than I thought before.

The last few days of the Israeli campaign have been quite a spectacle… [Read more →]

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Israeli election 2015: Netanyahu at risk?

March 14th, 2015, 6:03pm by Sam Wang

Note: updated to reflect final polls and some reader comments like this one.

Israel's Labor/Hatnuah ticket has emphasized economic issues. Credit: Jack Guez/APF/Getty Images/Vox

Labor's Isaac Herzog: Israel's next Prime Minister?

Israeli elections are Tuesday, March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day! Israeli politics is rococo in its complexity, but let’s take a look at the data. Bottom line, there is a substantial chance of Netanyahu being ousted as Prime Minister. In the context of Israeli politics, his US speech looks like a Hail Mary pass. [Read more →]

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(On-campus) research assistant wanted

February 28th, 2015, 6:30am by Sam Wang

I’m looking for a research assistant at Princeton to work on a gerrymandering project at a scholarly level, i.e. for academic research. It will also have practical implications. There’s a posting at the Student Employment office – look for posting #35677! For now, students only please.

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