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Opinion polling and election predictions

Northcott, Robert (2015) Opinion polling and election predictions. Philosophy of Science, 82. pp. 1260-1271.

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Abstract

Election prediction by means of opinion polling is a rare empirical success story for social science. I examine the details of a prominent case, drawing 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: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Northcott, Robertr.northcott@bbk.ac.uk
Keywords: opinion polling; elections; prediction; explanation
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2018 15:33
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2018 15:33
Item ID: 15388
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Date: December 2015
Page Range: pp. 1260-1271
Volume: 82
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15388

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