A New Approach to Estimating the Probability of Winning the Presidency
Posted: 30 Aug 2001 Last revised: 29 Apr 2020
Date Written: August 1, 2001
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
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