Big data and the death of polls

The rumors of the death of polls might be greatly exaggerated. Recent coverage of a Twitter-based study ignores the weak effects in the original paper. [“For instance, being an incumbent predicts almost a 50,000 vote contribution to the Republican margin in their statistical model, whereas receiving 100 percent (all!) of tweet-mentions gets you only 155 votes”]. But, one of the authors of the papers even goes so far as to say “In the future, you will not need a polling organization to understand how your elected representative will fare at the ballot box. Instead, all you will need is an app on your phone.”

How Twitter can predict an election
Fabio Rojas | Opinions, Washington Post
August 11, 2013

Original Paper
More Tweets, More Votes: Social Media as a Quantitative Indicator of Political Behavior
J. DiGrazia, K. McKelvey, J. Bollen and F. Rojas | SSRN
February 21, 2013

How Twitter can Predict Elections: A Rebuttal
Rob Santos | Washington Post
August 16, 2013

Can Twitter Predict Elections? Not so Fast
Mark Blumenthal & Ariel Edwards-Levy | Huffington Post
August 16, 2013

Let’s Calm Down about Twitter Being Able to Predict Elections, Guys
Jason Linkins | HuffingtonPost
August 14, 2013

Popular Press
How Twitter can help predict an election – in one eye-catching study
Sean Sullivan | Washington Post
August 14, 2013
Want to figure out who is going to win a congressional race? Find out which candidate received the lion’s share of tweets in the lead-up to Election Day.


Some high-profile misses are also illustrative of the challenge of using tweets to reliably project elections. Anthony Weiner’s nearly 250,000 mentions on twitter (according to are unlikely to revive his downward spiral in the New York mayoral race – current front-runner Bill de Blasio has received barely 10,000 mentions in the same period. And while then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) received wide recognition on Twitter during the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, he failed to win a single contest.

A New Study Say Twitter Can Predict US Elections
Robinson Meyer | The Atlantic
August 13, 2013

[Unrelated Visualization of Tweets before the 2010 Election]

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