Usage and performance of bellwether polls for election forecasting

A non-traditional methodology of polling in small areas, called bellwethers, improves the accuracy of forecasts drawn from a large area.


Public opinion polls, widely used and relatively low in analytical complexity, are often highly accurate for election forecasting (Boon, 2012; Graefe, 2014; Hillygus, 2011). However, in highly contested elections where variability in vote toward development of more accurate pre-election predictions. While statewide polls yield vote share percentage estimates, bellwether polls yield an up-or-down indicator of the election winner. The combination, or pooling, of results may offer more nuanced information which may be missed in a survey of the large area alone.

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