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Opinion polling and election predictions

Northcott, Robert (2014) Opinion polling and election predictions. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

Election prediction by means of opinion polling is a rare empirical success story for social science, but one not previously considered by philosophers. I examine the details of a prominent case, namely the 2012 US presidential election, and draw two lessons of more general interest:
1) Methodology over metaphysics. Traditional metaphysical criteria were not a useful guide to whether successful prediction would be possible; instead, the crucial thing was selecting an effective methodology.
2) Which methodology? Success required sophisticated use of case-specific evidence from opinion polling. The pursuit of explanations via general theory or causal mechanisms, by contrast, turned out to be precisely the wrong path – contrary to much recent philosophy of social science


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Northcott, Robertr.northcott@bbk.ac.uk
Keywords: opinion polls, elections, prediction, explanation, mechanism, theory, social science
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Depositing User: Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2014 12:32
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2014 12:32
Item ID: 10873
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Date: 11 July 2014
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10873

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