Infoscience

Conference paper

Online Collaborative Prediction of Regional Vote Results

We consider online predictions of vote results, where regions across a country vote on an issue under discussion. Such online predictions before and during the day of the vote are useful to media agencies, polling institutes, and political parties, e.g., to identify regions that are crucial in determining the national outcome of a vote. We analyze a unique dataset from Switzerland. The dataset contains 281 votes from 2352 regions over a period of 34 years. We make several contributions towards improving online predictions. First, we show that these votes exhibit a bi-clustering of the vote results, i.e., regions that are spatially close tend to vote similarly, and issues that discuss similar topics show similar global voting patterns. Second, we develop models that can exploit this bi-clustering, as well as the features associated with the votes and regions. Third, we show that, when combining vote results and features together, Bayesian methods are essential to obtaining good performance. Our results show that Bayesian methods give better estimates of the hyperparameters than non-Bayesian methods such as cross-validation. The resulting models generalize well to many different tasks, produce robust predictions, and are easily interpretable.

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