how to forecast an election using simulation: a case study for teaching operations research

Great post about simulating election results – I might try to adapt this to investigate how unlikely yesterday’s GOP sweep was when I get the chance.  Republicans now control the Senate after winning key races in Georgia, Colorado, Iowa, and a particularly tight race in North Carolina.

Punk Rock Operations Research

After extensively blogging about the 2012 Presidential election and analytical models used to forecast the election (go here for links to some of these old posts), I decided to create a case study on Presidential election forecasting using polling data. This blog post is about this case study. I originally developed the case study for an undergraduate course on math modeling that used Palisade Decision Tools like @RISK. I retooled the spreadsheet for my undergraduate course in simulation in Spring 2014 to not rely on @RISK. All materials available in the Files tab.

The basic idea is that there are a number of mathematical models for predicting who will win the Presidential Election. The most accurate (and the most popular) use simulation to forecast the state-level outcomes based on state polls. The most sophisticated models like Nate Silver’s 538 model incorporate things such as poll biases, economic data, and momentum. I wanted to incorporate poll biases.

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About schapshow

Math & Statistics graduate who likes gymnastics, 90s alternative music, and statistical modeling. View all posts by schapshow

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