Elections are exciting and dynamic events where political parties spend millions of dollars trying to motivate millions of voters to use their most basic democratic right: the right to vote. In the middle of a campaign, they can sometimes seem like forgone conclusions, and at other times seem like wild, unpredictable events. What do political scientists know about forecasting elections? You will review some of the most cutting edge research in political science on this very question. Are election results determined by the economy? How much does your socio-demographic profile affect how you mark your ballot? Can we predict the results in each riding or state based on national opinion polls? You will spend some of the class time learning about the tools political scientists have developed to answer these questions, and the rest of the time you will learn how to apply them to the upcoming US presidential election.
Paul Fairie has been a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary in political science since 2010. Paul is also a data scientist at Centrality Data Science in Calgary, and a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail where he tries to make political science research accessible to the general public.