Applied psephology

Tom Gauld:

Voting system

On the practicalities of voter modeling in elections, for the purpose of influencing how they vote, with special reference to Australian elections. Marketing psychology for governments, and for those who wish to have control of governments. This also relates, in these increasingly polarised times, to the difficulties of getting along.

For now, a smattering of links.

πŸ— mention problems of ecological inference, Simpson’s paradoxes in electoral demographics, β€œSymbolic data analysis” for census data, response bias, survey design etc. Finish up with practical tips.

Betting on them

You mean in a prediction market? See the nice plots from David Rothschild via Andrew Gelman, and Davis’s introduction to shortcoming, and consider also Taleb’s arbitrage argument. (Taleb 2018)


  • Presumably spatial statistics and other resources such as Geocomputation with R relate.

  • that Wired article that made A/B testing hip way back in the day.

    I wanted to excerpt a thing from that, but they want to charge me money for even that, and as I don’t actually like Wired magazine per se, I cannot be arsed.

  • How do you do psephological graphical models? causalimpact a la (Brodersen et al. 2015)? Or is a straight-up PC-algorithm causal study sufficient? How about when the data is a mixture of time-series data and one-off results (e.g. polling before and election and the election itself) How do you integrate external information such as population mobility?

Australian specifics

See Australia in data for some technicalities of how to access data about Australia.

Kevin Bonham does a lengthy postmortem about the local polling fails such as suspiciously low variance, assertions they lack education-based poststratification. Other local experts include Adrian Beaumont and most famously of all Antony Green, who uses Cunningham (1979) to call seats as election results come in.

On voters strategically changing electorates

What are the marginal benefits of treating politics like the porkbarrel machine it seems to be and behave accordingly? I’d like it to be otherwise, but let’s work with what we have.

Optimal electoral marginalness, inverse gerrymandering etc. Invading marginal electorates. Organised opposition means one would be are more likely to claim council seats as a side benefit.

How well could you do this? How static are the preferences of the voters?


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