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How YouGov correctly predicted the UK election where other pollsters failed

Tom Macaulay | July 13, 2017
The polling firm YouGov correctly predicted the UK election thanks to an experimental statistical model called MRP.


Future improvements

The methodology will next be applied in Germany for the first time at the federal elections in September. This will present a different challenge as the national number is more important. YouGov is also working to expand sample sizes and add more information on its respondents.

"We're moving to bigger data in terms of more people in our samples," says Rivers. "If we could go from 50,000 to 100,000 or 200,000 that would improve the quality of the predictions. It tracks with the software in terms of the time it takes just to model.

"The other thing we're doing is we're constantly adding more variables or data points. We collect thousands of pieces of information out of our panelists, and figuring out essentially how to utilise that more effectively to improve the quality of predictions is an area of research."

YouGov also ran a second poll for the 2017 election that used a traditional methodology and predicted a Conservative majority. The result predicted by the MRP model was dismissed by most upon its release, but seems likely to replace its predecessor in the future.

"I think in a decade we're going to look at that as sort of old-fashioned and this kind of approach is going to be used as a matter of course," says Rivers. "It's incremental. You're not throwing away what was done before, you're adding to it.


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