Philip Tetlock

IN THE HISTORY OF election forecasting, 2012 was 1936 all over again, with the roles updated. In 1936, a trio of new forecasters—Elmo Roper, Archibald Crossley, and George Gallup—used statistical sampling methods and predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win re-election, contrary to the best-known “straw poll” of the time, conducted by The Literary Digest. The Digest mailed ballots to millions of automobile owners and telephone subscribers, groups that in the midst of the Depression drastically over-represented Republicans.

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