Predicting the Irish 'Gay Marriage' Referendum

6 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2015 Last revised: 17 Oct 2015

See all articles by Nikos Askitas

Nikos Askitas

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 14, 2015


On February 20, 2015 Irish Premier Enda Kenny confirmed that a “yes-no” referendum on same sex marriage would be held on May 22 of the same year. A yes vote would legalise same sex marriage in Ireland. As the Irish premier put it, the vote was about “tolerance, respect and sensitivity.” The electoral outcome turned out to be 62.07% for the yes vote with voter turnout at 60.52% of the registered voters. Ireland thus became the first country in the world to legalise same sex marriage through a popular vote. Using hourly Google Search data one week prior to the Irish Referendum of May 22, 2015 and a simple ratio of “vote yes” to “vote no” searches I demonstrate how the outcome could have been predicted on the nose. The method is used here successfully for the second time and is so far as I know the only one which forecasts popular vote with Google Search.

Keywords: Referendum, Predicting, Google Trends, Google Search, complexity, behaviour, data science, computational social science, complex systems

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Askitas, Nikos, Predicting the Irish 'Gay Marriage' Referendum (October 14, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Nikos Askitas (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
+49 228 3894 525 (Phone)
+49 228 3894 510 (Fax)


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