10 September 2014

What is PsephoAnalytics?

Political campaigns have limited resources -–both time and financial - that should be spent on attracting voters that are more likely to support their candidates. Identifying these voters can be critical to the success of a candidate.
Given the privacy of voting and the lack of useful surveys, there are few options for identifying individual voter preferences:
  • Polling, which is large-scale, but does not identify individual voters
  • Voter databases, which identify individual voters, but are typically very small scale
  • In-depth analytical modeling, which is both large-scale and helps to 'identify' voters (at least at a neighbourhood level on average)
The goal of PsephoAnalytics* is to model voting behaviour in order to accurately explain campaigns (starting with the 2014 Toronto mayoral race). This means attempting to answer four key questions:
  1. What are the (causal) explanations for how election campaigns evolve – and how well can we predict their outcomes?
  2. What are effects of (even simple) shocks to election campaigns?
  3. How can we advance our understanding of election campaigns?
  4. How can elections be better designed?
* Psephology (from the Greek psephos, for 'pebble', which the ancient Greeks used as ballots) deals with the analysis of elections.

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