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date: 24 March 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses (1) the development of election poll aggregation and its use in popular election forecasts, (2) the technical and statistical demands of using polls this way, and (3) the controversies surrounding aggregation and forecasting. The first section covers how increases in publicly released polls resulted in poll averaging and aggregation websites becoming popular in the early 2000s, then how election forecasting using polls as the biggest predictors became popular in the media. The second section discusses how polls are aggregated and how aggregations vary. The focus then turns to how polls are used in election forecasts. Finally, common questions that arise from poll aggregation and forecasting are addressed: Are averages always better than single polls? Are there too many forecasts; do we need to aggregate the forecasts? Are we expecting too much from polls, which are meant to be snapshots, not predictions, by using them in forecasts?

Keywords: polling aggregation, election forecasting, media forecasts, election coverage, pre-election polls

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