Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Top 10 GOP candidates

August 4th, 2015, 2:58pm by Sam Wang

…with appropriate error bars! From Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR.

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Is Donald Trump Really The Frontrunner?

July 20th, 2015, 1:18pm by Sam Wang

Conventional horserace polls put him in first or second place. However, these single-choice polls are a terrible way to tell who is likely to make it in a field of 16 candidates.

Today in The New Republic, I argue that horserace polls are asking the wrong question. Instead, a more elaborate method – instant runoff voting* – may more accurately answer who is likely to survive the coming campaign. Read on!

*Postscript: I’ve been hearing from people who point out the problems with instant-runoff, both as an actual voting system and as a feasible polling technique. One possibility that may address both concerns is Bucklin voting.

→ 72 CommentsTags: 2016 Election

SCOTUS Upholds Arizona Redistricting Commission

June 29th, 2015, 11:17am by Sam Wang

Update, 10:05pm: At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern thinks this case might be seen someday as the most important one of this Supreme Court term. I agree with him. -Sam

This morning, the US Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision on redistricting in Arizona. Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the opinion. For anyone interested in redistricting, this is a big deal – and in my view, a good development, for reasons I wrote about in 2013. Here’s what happened…
[

→ 21 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · House

Train travel is incredibly safe

May 13th, 2015, 9:08am by Sam Wang

Television “news” media, as is often the case, is good at blowing an event out of proportion. In the wake of the Amtrak train crash (and hey, I am totally against train crashes!), we have this:

In contrast with this statement, the bar graph above shows actual transportation fatality risk in the United States, from an article by Ian Savage at Northwestern University. His data end in 2009, but note that the overall tendency is for travel to get safer over time:
From the work of Ian Savage, Northwestern University

Take a look: death rates have gone down for all forms of travel: car, train, airplane, and boat. Despite this, such gore is a staple of news broadcasts. However, maybe some good can yet come of this: there is a major need for repairs and upgrades in U.S. infrastructure. Train travel is one place to invest the dollars.

It is a shame that we are intensely visual primates. Actual threats like climate change are too abstract to appreciate, while on TV we get panic about Malaysian jets and train crashes.

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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 →]

→ 14 CommentsTags: United Kingdom

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.

→ 13 CommentsTags: Uncategorized

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!

→ 6 CommentsTags: 2004 Election · 2006 Elections · 2008 Election · 2012 Election · 2014 Election

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 →]

→ 18 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

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. [

→ 33 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

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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