November 2011 Election Prediction Pool Results
Even in an off-off-year election, a high turnout of 42 entrants participated in the the 2011 election prediction pool. The prizes this year are a book by Allen Raymond and a Down East calendar, which will go to the top two overall winners.
As always, winners are determined by comparing their percentage predictions for each candidate (or, in the case of this election, referendum side) with the actual results, dividing by two for each race, and then totaling the results.
First, let's take a look at the individual results.
For Question 1, the People's Veto of the law eliminating Election Day registration, most entrants predicted a closer race than the actual 60-40 result, although only three entrants predicted the “No” side winning the vote. The big winners here were Sue Alderson, John Duke and Greg Norton, who all came within one point of error.
For Question 2, the Citizen's Initiative that would have seen new casino opportunities in the Biddeford area and in Washington County, most entrants actually predicted the “Yes” side winning. I imagine this is due in large part to the pro-racino side being so much more visible in the lead up to the vote. Mike Turcotte predicted this one almost exactly. As you can see, I thought this would be a slightly closer race.
On Question 3, the Citizen's Initiative to allow a casino in downtown Lewiston, most participants predicted a much closer vote. Only four entrants predicted a “Yes” vote in the 30s. Nate was spot on in this one. In addition to taking second place in the Portland mayoral race, Ethan Strimling also came in a close second in predicting this result.
The average on Question 4, a legislative referendum to change the way Maine does Congressional redistricting, was close to the actual result, with most entrants predicting a close win for this somewhat confusing question. Jim hit the nail on the head with a prediction of 53-47 and I tied with Scott Farnham, Greg Norton, Jacob Messer and Lagwolf for second place.
With the overall results, we can see that conventional wisdom, as represented by the average of all predictions, was quite a bit off for this election. There were, however, several participants who did very well. In particular, Nate, with an error score in the single digits, won the night and will be receiving How to Rig an Election in the mail.
I came in second in my own pool, by far the best I've ever done in one of these contests. As several killjoy ethicists have informed me that I shouldn't be able to win a prize in a contest I administer, the Down East calendar will go to the man I edged out: my boss at MPA, Jesse Graham (fair warning Jesse – if I draw your name for the office gift exchange, this counts as your present).
The rest of the top ten are below. As you can see, “I hate to predict” should probably get over their aversion, as they managed a very respectable 8th place.
So how did the professional pollsters match up against the amateur prognosticators in this contest? The poll I was involved in from the Maine People's Resource Center did very well. If it were an entrant in the pool, with undecided voters divided proportionally, it would have beaten me for second place with a total error of 10.03.
Critical Insights and Public Policy Polling did less well. They didn't provide projections for all the questions, but on Question 1, despite CI scoring much higher than PPP, neither would have been in the top ten. Some more info on accuracy (including on the Down East/MPRC Portland Mayoral poll) here.
Thanks for playing, everyone, and congratulations to all the winners! Feel free to leave a comment here or send me a note on twitter if you'd like to know your individual results.