As 2021 begins, political turmoil follows national elections

Tracking data from the Georgia US Senate runnoff elections

A political horizon chart for the Senate runoff elections of January 5, 2021 suggests that both were highly competitive races. We used a political horizon chart to compare hourly prediction-market-based estimates with data from daily preference and prediction surveys.


The Virtual Tout® provides the latest word in prediction markets and surveys

Political horizon charts

With political horizon charts, it is easy to identify trends across time both within and between the panels. The chart for the 2020 presidential election employs a chance-of-winning percentage difference scale. The color gradient is best understood from a cheat sheet.

Georgia presented a challenging problem for election forecasters. Prediction markets right up to the November 3rd election suggested that Georgia would go Republican, but the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket won Georgia's electoral votes.


Learn more about political horizon charts by downloading the working paper.

Political polls versus prediction markets and surveys

Political scientists often complain about opinion polls, as do politicians and analysts. Polls are costly and inefficient. Polls are out-of-date as soon as they are published. And, given the great variability from one poll to the next, we must wonder why election forecasters rely on opinion polls as their primary data source.

Prediction markets provide a meaningful alternative to political opinion polls. We say prediction markets are better than polls because prediction markets can respond to all factors relevant to an election. While opinion polls try to anticipate the behavior of likely voters on election day, prediction markets consider voting practices and contingencies as well as voter intentions. Prediction markets can also reflect voter demographics and economic conditions.

We say prediction markets are better than polls because prediction markets are fast to respond to current events. Prediction markets provide relevant, up-to-date information, responding to all events in the public sphere.

Many argue that prediction markets reflect collective information across all people willing to place bets on the outcomes of political contests. Anything known to the public can affect prediction market prices. Prediction markets reflect the "wisdom of the crowd."

Methods of election forecasting audio:

With the Georgia runoff elections of January 2021, The Virtual Tout® event forecasting service introduced prediction surveys, which attempt to combine the best aspects of political polls and prediction markets. This figure provides a summary of preference surveys (polls), prediction surveys, and prediction markets.

What went wrong with 2020 election forecasts?


Comparing forecasts audio:

About Data Science Quarterly

Data Science Quarterly from Research Publishers LLC promotes data science as a discipline, showing its relevance to social and political discourse. Data Science Quarterly combines the best attributes of academic journals and popular news magazines. Its articles draw on high-quality empirical research written in clear, concise language that anyone can understand

To trust the news, we want to see the data behind it. Show us the research. Show us the science. To trust an argument, we want to see evidentiary support and correct logic. These values are reflected in the journal's tagline: Following the data, leading with science.

The print version of Data Science Quarterly will be available beginning January 2021, with printed paperbound copies available for distribution in the United States and with electronic file downloads available worldwide. The print version will be published each January, April, July, and October. Articles in the print version of Data Science Quarterly are organized under four major sections:

  • • The Opinion section comprises op-eds;
  • • The Research section presents research studies much like we see in peer-reviewed academic journals;
  • • The Cases section describes practical problems, setting the stage for subsequent research; and
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The online version of Data Science Quarterly became active August 20, 2020 with the initial publication of The Virtual Tout ® election forecast. The online version is free for all Internet users and will be expanded with additional news and articles in 2021.

ISSN 2693-8871 (print)
ISSN 2693-8863 (online)

Introducing Data Science Quarterly audio:

Sample articles from Volume 1, Number 1 (January 2021)

Message from the Editor-in-Chief. Introducing Data Science Quarterly
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Opinion. Seeking Responsible Social Media: The Facebook Case
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Opinion. Protect Public Health Data Now
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Case. Model of an Epidemic
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Case. Willingness to Fly
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Research. Predicting the 2020 Presidential Election
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