FiveThirtyEight comes out nerdfighting

I’ve already mentioned the American site FiveThirtyEight.com, which aggregates opinion poll data and produces predictions for elections.  In the run-up to the British general election they produced an elaborate model based on a variable swing among different parliamentary constituencies.  Rather charmingly, they used the term ‘nerdfight’ to discuss their differences with a group of British-based analysts who are attempting to build a similar model.  As fights go, it’s a very civilised one: Nate Silver, who created FiveThirtyEight, observes at one point that ‘there’s much we agree on’ and expresses the wish to meet his British rivals for a drink sometime.  But it’s good to see so much attention given to mathematical modelling.

As it turns out, FiveThirtyEight’s model (along with many others) overestimated the extent to which Nick Clegg could turn his debate performances into votes and seats for the Lib Dems.  But it would be interesting to analyse how it could be refined.

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