DavidMRothschild on November 07, 2012 @ 2:35AM
Last February, the Signal predicted that President Barack Obama would win reelection with 303 electoral votes to his opponent's 235--a prediction we made before the Republican party had chosen the identity of that challenger. This struck many people as absurd at the time: There were nine months of campaigning left, two conventions, several billion dollars worth of advertising, four debates, and untold bumps in the road for both sides.
As of 1 a.m. EST this morning, 50 of 51 of those predictions are correct, with about 60,000 votes separating the candidates in Florida. If Romney can win the state, the Signal will have gone a perfect 51 for 51.
We point this out not to brag--mostly not to brag--but to say that it's a vindication for the broad view of presidential elections: That they are the product of a complex stew of social and economic forces, not a contest between candidates and campaigns. At the time, the Signal's prediction model included only one measure of public opinion: Obama's approval rating, which stood at just below 50 percent at the time. The rest of predictions were driven by a model of those macro-factors--incumbency, economic growth and contraction, and so forth--that exist independently of the names and faces on the tickets.
Anyone can average a bunch of polls and call the election a week before it happens. In the end, it's the models that tell us something about what forces influence election. We will talk in most depth over the coming days (with a minimum of gloating) about how our model maintained its consistency as it shifted to include more polls and prediction markets in the weeks and months that followed the initial take. But we are proud to have provided a consistant and correct message to our readers for the last few months.
DavidMRothschild on November 06, 2012 @ 1:41PM
12:40 AM: Forecasting that same sex marriage will win in all 4 elections: MD, ME, and WA legalized and MN not criminalizing.
12:20 AM: 2 senate seats are now looking more Democratic: Montana and North Dakota.
11:30 PM: For comparison, here is the first tables from this afternoon (below).
11:10 PM: Obama is the next president. He has secured enough electoral votes. (Called on the Signal at 10:44 PM).
3:45 PM: We will be updating this chart regularly until the election is decided. I suggest you check back to this page for the quickest possible updates.
Below are the links to all of our updates:
DavidMRothschild on November 06, 2012 @ 1:11PM
As liftoff approaches Tuesday evening, the Signal will be focusing (like everyone else) on a small handful of states whose outcomes are not certain or nearly certain well before polls close. Here's a viewer's guide:
The no-drama states
There are 37 states, plus Washington, D.C., who we consider certain for one candidate or another. President Barack Obama controls 14 states and D.C., totaling 186 electoral votes. Gov. Mitt Romney controls 23 states, totaling 190 electoral votes. Virtually every news organization agrees on this list, with only minor variations. The only way Obama or Romney picks off one of these states is if the polls are wildly, wildly wrong and the entire country has shifted dramatically to one side.
The only-a-little-drama states
Seven more states are leaning hard toward one of the candidates (poll closing times in parentheses): Pennsylvania (8 PM ET), Michigan (8 PM and 9 PM ET), Minnesota (9 PM ET), New Mexico (9 PM ET), Wisconsin (9 PM ET), and Nevada (10 PM ET) are leaning heavily toward Obama, for a total of 67 electoral votes. North Carolina (7:30 PM ET), with 15 electoral votes, is leaning heavily toward Romney.
If there are no surprises there, that gets us to 253 electoral votes for Obama and 205 for Romney. Therein lies the central challenge that the Romney campaign has faced since the beginning.
The lots-of-drama states
Six states remain that will probably not be called for hours after the polls close. They are: Virginia (7 PM ET), Ohio (7:30 PM ET), New Hampshire (8 PM ET), Colorado (9 PM ET), and Iowa (10 PM ET) and Florida (7 or 8 PM, depending on county.)
DavidMRothschild on November 05, 2012 @ 2:45PM
In addition to providing comprehensive election news and real-time results, Bing Elections also provides unique social media insights and analysis. And as we count down to Election Day, social media buzz on the candidates, parties, issues, results and more are only intensifying. As a way to help people make sense of the noise, we created and report discussion levels for every major elections topic popping across Twitter on Bing Elections.
This discussion level scale is sourced by something that we call the Bing Social Media Interest Richter Scale, which categorizes the level of buzz on the presidential candidates across key issues popping in Twitter. The three levels are chatter (every day levels), discussion (an event), and hot (a major event). Generically, the discussion levels provide you with an easy to understand scale for how much social media is discussing a given person, sets of people, topics, etc. To provide transparency to these values, below is a snapshot of the Bing Social Media Interest Richter Scale, the proprietary tool, which we use to gauge discussion levels. The internal scale puts current values into historical context and provides people with an easy way to compare events. The scale is a powerful resource for anyone interested in benchmarks comparing the current and past social media interest levels on a given person or topic.
“Big Data” is a popular buzzword these days and there are certainly many places to find streams of data about all sorts of things; the trick is finding data streams that answer interesting and meaningful questions for their readers. Raw data totals are not helpful for most readers, because they lack context. What does X number of tweets or “likes” mean anyway? Opaque indexes hardly do any better. If you do not know what is going into the index, it is impossible to understand what the index means.
The discussion levels, outlined above in the Bing Social Media Interest Richter Scale, provide helpful context and are very transparent. The scale today focuses on Twitter data. We call this a “Richter Scale” because we use the same mathematical principles as the famous earthquake scale to convert raw data into an easy scale. Each higher number means 10 times the interest!
The scale can display multiple entities at a time to provide head to head comparisons, or entities can be combined to show the discussion levels around groups of people or topics. Above is the scale for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during the hectic few weeks around the Democratic Convention through the first presidential debate.
The historical data puts the magnitude into perspective. Major set-pieces of the campaign, Obama’s speech at the end of the DNC and the first debate, scored 5.6 and 5.5 respectively; only these huge events enter the realm of hot! Unknown major events, such as the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya and release of the hidden video of Romney at a fundraiser, scored lower on the scale with 4.2 and 4.0 respectively; these memorable events are in the realm of discussion. Of course, those events also unfolded over a long period of time, with less concentrated spikes. So far, the last few days of the campaign have lingered in this elevated discussion level.
Knowing how much social media buzz is happening is important and meaningful, because it may be a bellwether for the impact of major events over time. This is true both in terms of magnitude at the time and whether or not a major event will be discussed in the days and weeks to come.
Future iterations of this scale will provide more details on who is talking: gender and geography. As we work to evolve and deepen our analysis, it can continue to grow in providing a critical pulse on the conversations that are happening across many segments of voters – helping to provide an early indication on the true impact of social conversations.
To see our discussion scale and more social media analysis around the elections, please visit Bing.com/elections. This is joint work with Emre Kiciman of Micrsoft Research.
Obama still poised to win 303 electoral votes on Tuesday (Originally posted on Yahoo!'s "The Signal" Blog)
DavidMRothschild on November 05, 2012 @ 2:43PM
In the last two days, six new polls of Ohio voters have been released, five of which favor President Barack Obama, by leads of 6 points, 4 points, 4 points, 3 points and 2 points. The last reports a tie, from right-leaning Rasmussen, which gave former Gov. Mitt Romney a 2-point advantage last week. Obama now has a 3.1 percentage point lead in Pollster's average for Ohio and a 2.9 percentage point lead in the RealClearPolitics average for Ohio.
A 3 percentage point lead is hardly an insurmountable margin for Obama. But it has been so consistent over the past several weeks that Romney ought to be hoping that the polls favor Obama on a systematic basis by overestimating the turnout of respondents with demographics that favor him. This is certainly possible, but it would mean that many different polling institutions are making similar mistakes. The outcome of Ohio, then, will be as much a referendum on the art of polling as it will be on the art of the presidency.