Basics of the Model

In this post I’m going to describe the basic components of the election prediction model. I’ll go through each of these in more detail later but for now this will give an overview of how the prediction comes together. The model is made up of three main components:

  1. Aggregating polling results to get a picture of the level of support each party enjoys
  2. Projecting possible changes between now and May 2015
  3. Predicting possible election outcomes for May 2015

The first part is important because individual opinion polls only survey a small group of people and so their results have a lot of random variation. By looking at all recent polls together, it’s possible to get a clearer picture of the real situation.

Projecting poll changes is a component I haven’t seen many other UK election prediction sites attempt. Whereas most sites predict what would happen if an election occurred today, I am attempting to project what might happen in 2015. Obviously it’s impossible to predict what will happen between now and the next election, but based on historical data it is possible to ask how much the polls might plausibly move over the next 18 months.

For now the model almost exclusively considers the simple swing between the Conservative and Labour parties. This is an area in which it is weaker than some other public models and I plan to improve this in the near future. However, the rising popularity of UKIP will make modelling the effect of smaller parties especially hard for 2015, since there is little precedent for the presence of a significant fourth party in UK electoral history.

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