Type of site
|Opinion poll analysis, blog|
|Owner||Andrew S. Tanenbaum|
|Created by||Andrew S. Tanenbaum|
|Launched||May 24, 2004|
Electoral-Vote.com (formally, Electoral Vote Predictor) is a website of computer scientist Andrew S. Tanenbaum. The site's primary content is poll analysis to project the outcome of U.S. elections. The site also includes commentary on related news stories.
Well known for its color-coded electoral map of the United States, the site was created during the lead-up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election to predict the winner. The site tries to improve on national polls usually reported in the media by predicting which way each state's electoral vote will go based on statewide polls. U.S. presidents are in fact elected by separate popular elections in each state, rather than direct popular vote of the entire country. The winner of each election receives the state's electoral votes equal to its members of Congress (see Electoral College for details). EV.com's method thus simulates the actual process. Updated throughout the campaign, visitors can see who is "ahead" at any time.
Through most of the 2004 campaign Tanenbaum kept his identity a secret only acknowledging that he personally preferred John Kerry. Tanenbaum, a libertarian who is a member of Democrats Abroad, and generally supports Democratic candidates for office, revealed his identity on November 1, 2004, as well as stating his reasons and qualifications for running the website.
2004 Presidential election
The site began operating on May 24, 2004 with a simple map and a few links to other pages. The information available grew over time, though. During the months leading up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, the site was updated daily to reflect new state polls. The site was immensely popular, attracting nearly 700,000 daily visitors as election day neared and was the most popular election site in the country, in the top 1,000 Web sites in the world, and in the top 10 blogs in the world.
The main page consisted of a map of the United States with the individual states colored varying degrees of red or blue, based on the polls for that state. For instance, Illinois, a state that was polling strongly for Democrat John Kerry was colored dark blue, whereas Michigan where Kerry's lead polled by a small margin was colored light blue. Analogously, Texas was dark red during the whole campaign, indicating Bush's strong lead there. All of the polling data were provided in multiple formats, including HTML, Excel, and .csv for downloading. Other features included historical data on previous elections, charts and animations showing the polls over the course of time, cartograms and links to hundreds of other pages and external Websites with tables, charts, graphs, and other election data and information.
The main algorithm just used the most recent poll(s) in every state. If two polls came out on the same day, they were averaged. This algorithm used all published polls, including those by partisan pollsters such as Strategic Vision (R) and Hart Research (D). A second algorithm used only nonpartisan polls and averaged all polls during the past three days. A third algorithm used historical data to predict how undecided voters would break. Maps for each of the algorithms were given every day, but the first one got most of the publicity since it was on the main page.
The site's final tracking using algorithm 1 posted on Election Day, November 2 gave 262 electoral votes to John Kerry and 261 to George W. Bush, with 15 tossups. The second algorithm (averaging 3 days worth of nonpartisan polls) gave Kerry 245 and Bush 278 with 15 tossups. The third algorithm (predicting the undecideds) predicted 281 for Kerry and 257 for Bush.
The actual vote gave Kerry 252 to Bush's 286. Using nonpartisan polls and averaging a few days worth of polls did best. This algorithm got 47 states plus D.C. right, 1 state (Iowa) wrong, and said New Mexico and Wisconsin were too close to call. The most-recent-poll wins algorithm got 46 right, 4 wrong, and one too close to call.
2006 Midterm election
On September 6, 2006, the site began tracking the 2006 Congressional elections in the Senate. Shortly thereafter, the House of Representatives was added. The map on the site's front page displayed polling for the 2006 Senate races. For House races, the site featured a "Hot House Races" page with links to Wikipedia articles on the candidates, links to the candidates' official websites, and notes on the races. The relatively small number of House election polls as well as 2004's House vote totals were used to project the makeup of the House on the site's front page. The site correctly predicted the winners in all 33 Senate races.
2008 Presidential, Senate, and House elections
In late December 2006, the site began its 2008 coverage, which included the presidential race, all 33 Senate races, and about 40 House races that had been close in 2006 and were expected to be highly contested in 2008. For each of the known presidential, senatorial and House candidates, a photo was given, linked to the candidate's Wikipedia entry, along with a brief description of the candidate and race. The site also had four new maps: one showing the 2004 presidential election, one showing the governors by state, one showing the senate by state and finally one showing the House delegations by state. Polling data was presented daily beginning in December 2007 with data from the primaries.
Polling data was presented daily on the likely outcome of the primaries as well as upcoming trends.
The site's electoral vote prediction for the 2008 election was very close to the actual outcome, correctly projecting the winner of every state except for Indiana, and showing Missouri (won by John McCain by only 0.13% of the vote) as a pure tossup. The Senate projection was also close to the actual outcome, predicting 34 of the 35 decided states correctly, including correctly showing a Democratic pickup in Alaska and incorrectly showing the Republican Senator Norm Coleman holding his seat in Minnesota. The Senate results of the Minnesota election was so close that it was contested until the state supreme court ruled in favor of Al Franken on June 30, 2009.
2010 Midterm election
- The Votemaster FAQ
- Electoral Vote Predictor archive from Nov. 2
- The Hot House Races at electoral-vote.com
- "It's going to be a photo finish". The West Georgian. 2008-01-16.
- "Poll Crazy" http://www.guardian.co.uk/salon/story/0,,1331599,00.html 2004-10-20