A New Approach to Estimating the Probability of Winning the Presidency

Posted: 30 Aug 2001 Last revised: 29 Apr 2020

See all articles by Edward H. Kaplan

Edward H. Kaplan

Yale School of Management

Arnold I. Barnett

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; Yale School of Management

Date Written: August 1, 2001

Abstract

As the 2000 election so vividly showed, it is Electoral College standings rather than national popular votes that determine who becomes President. But current pre-election polls focus almost exclusively on the popular vote. Here we present a method by which pollsters can achieve both point estimates and margins of error for a presidential candidate's electoral-vote total. We use data from both the 2000 and 1988 elections to illustrate the approach. Moreover, we indicate that the sample sizes needed for reliable inferences are similar to those now used in popular-vote polling.

Keywords: Presidential Election Polling, Electoral College, Probability Models, Bayesian Estimation

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Edward H. and Barnett, Arnold I., A New Approach to Estimating the Probability of Winning the Presidency (August 1, 2001). Operations Research, 51(1):32-40, 2003 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=281194

Edward H. Kaplan (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

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Arnold I. Barnett

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-379
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2670 (Phone)

Yale School of Management

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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