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Measurements and Determinants of Polling Accuracy: Comparing Measures of Accuracy and Assessing Effects of Polling Practices

Conference contribution
Authors Jacob Sohlberg
Mikael Gilljam
Johan Martinsson
Published in AAPOR Annual Conference, May 14-17, 2015, Hollywood, Florida
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


This paper examines the performance of multiparty election polls, i.e. differences between polls and election results. We compare several measures of polling accuracy, ranging from the simple average absolute deviation in percentage points (Mosteller 1949) to the more recent multinomial accuracy measure (Arzheimer & Evans 2014). Extending a two-party accuracy measure (Martin, Traugott & Kennedy 2005) to multiparty systems, the multinomial measure has a number of superior features over the traditional measures. For example, it penalizes errors on smaller parties more harshly than measures of absolute deviations. In addition, it can readily be transformed into a dependent variable, enabling multivariate analysis when explaining polling accuracy. We study effects on polling performance of factors such as sample size and sample type (probability vs. non-probability). The analysis is based on election polls from the three latest Swedish national elections (2006, 2010 and 2014).

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