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Election polling errors across time and space

Election polling errors across time and space
Election polling errors across time and space
Are election polling misses becoming more prevalent? Are they more likely in some contexts than others? In this paper we undertake an over-time and cross-national assessment of prediction errors in pre-election polls. Our analysis draws on more than 26,000 polls from 338 elections in 45 countries over the period between 1942 and 2013, as well as data on more recent elections from 2014 to 2016. We proceed in the following way. First, building on previous studies, we demonstrate how poll errors evolve in a structured way over the election timeline. Second, we then focus on errors in polls in the final week of the campaign to examine poll performance across election years. Third, we use the historical performance of polls to benchmark recent polling “misses” in the UK, US and elsewhere. Fourth, we undertake a pooled analysis of polling errors – controlling for a number of institutional and party features – which enables us to test whether poll errors have increased or decreased over time. We find that, contrary to conventional wisdom, recent performance of polls has not been outside the ordinary. The performance of polls does vary across political contexts, however, in understandable ways.
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7
Wlezien, Christopher
e5c172ce-90fc-4bb3-989f-f11e4acb7e53
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7
Wlezien, Christopher
e5c172ce-90fc-4bb3-989f-f11e4acb7e53

Jennings, William and Wlezien, Christopher (2017) Election polling errors across time and space

Record type: Monograph (Working Paper)

Abstract

Are election polling misses becoming more prevalent? Are they more likely in some contexts than others? In this paper we undertake an over-time and cross-national assessment of prediction errors in pre-election polls. Our analysis draws on more than 26,000 polls from 338 elections in 45 countries over the period between 1942 and 2013, as well as data on more recent elections from 2014 to 2016. We proceed in the following way. First, building on previous studies, we demonstrate how poll errors evolve in a structured way over the election timeline. Second, we then focus on errors in polls in the final week of the campaign to examine poll performance across election years. Third, we use the historical performance of polls to benchmark recent polling “misses” in the UK, US and elsewhere. Fourth, we undertake a pooled analysis of polling errors – controlling for a number of institutional and party features – which enables us to test whether poll errors have increased or decreased over time. We find that, contrary to conventional wisdom, recent performance of polls has not been outside the ordinary. The performance of polls does vary across political contexts, however, in understandable ways.

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Election Polling Errors across Time and Space
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Published date: 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 413658
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413658
PURE UUID: 582e2b98-6bc5-46d4-aabf-3175b7e5962c
ORCID for William Jennings: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896

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Date deposited: 31 Aug 2017 16:31
Last modified: 12 Dec 2021 03:53

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Author: Christopher Wlezien

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