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Margin Notes

The federal election – the bets are in


Well, we now know how each of the federal parties did in last night’s election, so let’s take a look at how two university-based election forecasters made out. The two are the University of British Columbia Election Stock Market and the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) Federal Election Tracker at Wilfrid Laurier University. In the former, players invest their own funds to buy and sell financial contracts representing the political parties. The latter is a more traditional seat projection based on the latest public opinion polling. Both forecasters overestimated Liberal wins and underestimated Conservative gains, while essentially splitting on NDP and Bloc Québécois projections. The total absolute seat error for LISPOP was 30, with UBC doing slightly better at 29 (I rounded the UBC projections up or down to the nearest whole number). In the 2006 federal election the seat error was 50 for LISPOP and a very good 15 for UBC. That would seem to suggest that putting a little money on the line helps to improve the forecast. The Laurier site, by the way, which included regular blog updates, received well over 90,000 hits during the election and garnered quite a bit of media attention, including a regular feature in the National Post.

Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is a former editor of University Affairs.
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