Big Data Analytics Predict Obama Win
Here’s an interesting article from InformationWeek
which discusses how University of Illinois professor Sheldon Jacobson and American University professor Allan Lichtman have both devised different methods of election forecasting which have each separately predicted an Obama victory. It gives a particularly vivid description of Lichtman’s method, which relies on thirteen keys in order to make a prediction. The keys are:
1. What were results of 2010 mid-term elections?
2. Was there a serious challenge to the incumbent’s party nomination?
3. Is the candidate the sitting president?
4. Is there a third party with a chance of getting 5% or more of the national vote?
5. Is the economy in recession during reelection year?
6. Strength of the long-term economy?
7. Has the current administration undertaken major policy change?
8. Is there major social unrest in the U.S., such as what occurred in the 1960s?
9. Is there a scandal like Watergate or the impeachment of Bill Clinton?.
10. Has the administration avoided a catastrophe abroad, such as losing a war?
11. Has the administration achieved a major foreign policy success?
12. Is the incumbent candidate charismatic?
13. Is the challenger charismatic?
Analysis of this from one election analysis, by nature, raises a few questions. First of all there is the issue of bias. While there does not seem to be any strong evidence that Lichtman is biased, one problem with this form of analysis is that, with some of the more subjective questions, such as questions about the charisma of candidates, the person reading the questions or doing the analysis runs a risk of letting his personal biases influence the answer he gives. For example, while Lichtman chose to assume that neither candidate was particularly charismatic when conducting the analysis, there are doubtlessly some who would disagree with that statement and say that one candidate was vastly more charismatic than the other. This could lead to some problems when using the method as well as accusations of bias from people on either side of the election. Nonetheless, many of the questions themselves seem fairly valid as long as they can be answered fairly objectively and the idea of trying to predict the outcome of elections without relying on polling voters is an interesting one.